Self-complementary AAV9 gene delivery partially corrects pathology associated with juvenile neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis (CLN3)

Megan E. Bosch, Amy Aldrich, Rachel Fallet, Jessica Odvody, Maria Burkovetskaya, Kaitlyn Schuberth, Julie A. Fitzgerald, Kevin D. Foust, Tammy Kielian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


Juvenile neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis (JNCL) is a fatal lysosomal storage disease caused by autosomal-recessive mutations in CLN3 for which no treatment exists. Symptoms appear between 5 and 10 years of age, beginning with blindness and seizures, followed by progressive cognitive and motor decline and premature death (late teens to 20s). We explored a gene delivery approach for JNCL by generating two self-complementary adeno-associated virus 9 (scAAV9) constructs to address CLN3 dosage effects using the methyl-CpG-binding protein 2 (MeCP2) and β-actin promoters to drive low versus high transgene expression, respectively. This approach was based on the expectation that low CLN3 levels are required for cellular homeostasis due to minimal CLN3 expression postnatally, although this had not yet been demonstrated in vivo. One-month-old Cln3Δex7/8 mice received one systemic (intravenous) injection of scAAV9/MeCP2-hCLN3 or scAAV9/β-actin-hCLN3, with green fluorescent protein (GFP)-expressing viruses as controls. A promoter–dosage effect was observed in all brain regions examined, in which hCLN3 levels were elevated 3- to 8-fold in Cln3Δex7/8 mice receiving scAAV9/β-actin-hCLN3 versus scAAV9/MeCP2-hCLN3. However, a disconnect occurred between CLN3 levels and disease improvement, because only the scAAV9 construct driving low CLN3 expression (scAAV9/MeCP2-hCLN3) corrected motor deficits and attenuated microglial and astrocyte activation and lysosomal pathology. This may have resulted from preferential promoter usage because transgene expression after intravenous scAAV9/MeCP2-GFP injection was primarily detected in NeuN+ neurons, whereas scAAV9/β-actin-GFP drove transgene expression in GFAP+ astrocytes. This is the first demonstration of a systemic delivery route to restore CLN3 in vivo using scAAV9 and highlights the importance of promoter selection for disease modification in juvenile animals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9669-9682
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number37
StatePublished - Sep 14 2016


  • AAV9
  • Astrocyte
  • Batten disease
  • CLN3
  • Lysosomal storage disease
  • Microglia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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