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Title: Lentivirus-meditated frataxin gene delivery reverses genome instability in Friedreich ataxia patient and mouse model fibroblasts
Author: Khonsari, Hassan
ISNI:       0000 0004 5914 7269
Awarding Body: Brunel University London
Current Institution: Brunel University
Date of Award: 2015
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Friedreich ataxia (FRDA) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease with primary sites of pathology in the large sensory neurons of the dorsal root ganglia (DRG) and dentate nucleus of the cerebellum. FRDA is also often accompanied by severe cardiomyopathy and diabetes mellitus. FRDA is caused by loss of frataxin (FXN) expression, which is due to GAA repeat expansion in intron 1 of the FXN gene. Frataxin is a mitochondrial protein important in iron-sulphur cluster (ISC) biogenesis and in the electron transport chain (ETC). As a consequence of impaired mitochondrial energy metabolism, FRDA cells show increased levels of and sensitivity to oxidative stress, which is known to be associated with genome instability. In this study, we investigated DNA damage/repair in relation to FXN expression via immunostaining of γ-H2AX, a nuclear protein that is recruited to DNA double strand breaks (DSBs). We found FRDA patient and YG8sR FRDA mouse model fibroblasts to have inherently elevated DNA DSBs (1.8 and 0.9 foci/nucleus) compared to normal fibroblasts (0.6 and 0.2 foci/nucleus, in each case P < 0.001). By delivering the FXN gene to these cells with a lentivirus vector (LV) at a copy number of ~1/cell, FXN mRNA levels reached 48 fold (patient cells) and 42 fold (YG8sR cells) and protein levels reached 20 fold (patient cells) and 3.5 fold (YG8sR cells) that of untreated fibroblasts, without observable cytotoxicity. This resulted in a reduction in DNA DSB foci to 0.7 and 0.43 (in each case P < 0.001) in human and YG8sR fibroblasts, respectively and an increase in cell survival to that found for normal fibroblasts. We next irradiated the FRDA fibroblasts (2Gy) and measured their DSB repair profiles. Both human and mouse FRDA fibroblasts were unable to repair damaged DNA. However, repair returned to near normal levels following LV FXN gene transfer. Our data suggest frataxin may be important for genome stability and cell survival by ensuring ISC for DNA damage repair enzymes or may be required directly for DNA DSB repair.
Supervisor: Themis, M. ; Pook, M. Sponsor: Ataxia UK ; FARA Australia ; FARA USA
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Gene therapy ; DNA double strand break ; Gamma-HZAX ; Mitochondria ; FRDA correction