Cell Death Pathways in Mutant Rhodopsin Rat Models Identifies Genotype-Specific Targets Controlling Retinal Degeneration.


Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, University of British Columbia, 2550 Willow Street, Vancouver, BC, V5Z 3N9, Canada. [Email]


Retinitis pigmentosa (RP) is a group of inherited neurological disorders characterized by rod photoreceptor cell death, followed by secondary cone cell death leading to progressive blindness. Currently, there are no viable treatment options for RP. Due to incomplete knowledge of the molecular signaling pathways associated with RP pathogenesis, designing therapeutic strategies remains a challenge. In particular, preventing secondary cone photoreceptor cell loss is a key goal in designing potential therapies. In this study, we identified the main drivers of rod cell death and secondary cone loss in the transgenic S334ter rhodopsin rat model, tested the efficacy of specific cell death inhibitors on retinal function, and compared the effect of combining drugs to target multiple pathways in the S334ter and P23H rhodopsin rat models. The primary driver of early rod cell death in the S334ter model was a caspase-dependent process, whereas cone cell death occurred though RIP3-dependent necroptosis. In comparison, rod cell death in the P23H model was via necroptotic signaling, whereas cone cell loss occurred through inflammasome activation. Combination therapy of four drugs worked better than the individual drugs in the P23H model but not in the S334ter model. These differences imply that treatment modalities need to be tailored for each genotype. Taken together, our data demonstrate that rationally designed genotype-specific drug combinations will be an important requisite to effectively target primary rod cell loss and more importantly secondary cone survival.


Apoptosis,Necroptosis,Neuroprotection,Personalized medicine,Retinal degeneration,Rhodopsin,