Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease type 4J (CMT4J) is caused by recessive, loss-of-function mutations in FIG4, encoding a phosphoinositol(3,5)P2-phosphatase. CMT4J patients have both neuron loss and demyelination in the peripheral nervous system, with vacuolization indicative of endosome/lysosome trafficking defects. Although the disease is highly variable, the onset is often in childhood and FIG4 mutations can dramatically shorten lifespan. There is currently no treatment for CMT4J. Here we present the results of preclinical studies testing a gene therapy approach to restore FIG4 expression. A mouse model of CMT4J, the Fig4-pale tremor (plt) allele, was dosed with a single-stranded AAV9 to deliver a codon-optimized human FIG4 sequence. Untreated, Fig4plt/plt mice have a median survival of approximately 5 weeks. When treated with the AAV9-FIG4 vector at postnatal day 1 or 4, mice survived at least one year, with largely normal gross motor performance and little sign of neuropathy by neurophysiological or histopathological evaluation. When treated at postnatal day 7 or 11, life span was still significantly prolonged and peripheral nerve function was improved, but rescue was less complete. No unanticipated adverse effects were observed. Therefore, AAV9-mediated delivery of FIG4 is a well-tolerated and efficacious strategy in a mouse model of CMT4J.
Maximiliano Presa, Rachel M. Bailey, Crystal Davis, Tara Murphy, Jenn Cook, Randy Walls, Hannah Wilpan, Laurent Bogdanik, Guy M. Lenk, Robert W. Burgess, Steven J. Gray, Cathleen Lutz