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Improved CoChR Variants Restore Visual Acuity and Contrast Sensitivity in a Mouse Model of Blindness under Ambient Light Conditions.

ABSTRACT: Severe photoreceptor cell death in retinal degenerative diseases leads to partial or complete blindness. Optogenetics is a promising strategy to treat blindness. The feasibility of this strategy has been demonstrated through the ectopic expression of microbial channelrhodopsins (ChRs) and other genetically encoded light sensors in surviving retinal neurons in animal models. A major drawback for ChR-based visual restoration is low light sensitivity. Here, we report the development of highly operational light-sensitive ChRs by optimizing the kinetics of a recently reported ChR variant, Chloromonas oogama (CoChR). In particular, we identified two CoChR mutants, CoChR-L112C and CoChR-H94E/L112C/K264T, with markedly enhanced light sensitivity. The improved light sensitivity of the CoChR mutants was confirmed by ex vivo electrophysiological recordings in the retina. Furthermore, the CoChR mutants restored the vision of a blind mouse model under ambient light conditions with remarkably good contrast sensitivity and visual acuity, as evidenced by the results of behavioral assays. The ability to restore functional vision under normal light conditions with the improved CoChR variants removed a major obstacle for ChR-based optogenetic vision restoration.

SUBMITTER: Ganjawala TH 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC6554551 | BioStudies | 2019-01-01

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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