Retinitis pigmentosa (RP) and associated inherited retinal diseases (IRDs) are caused by rod photoreceptor degeneration, necessitating therapeutics promoting rod photoreceptor survival. To address this, we tested compounds for neuroprotective effects in multiple zebrafish and mouse RP models, reasoning drugs effective across species and/or independent of disease mutation may translate better clinically. We first performed a large-scale phenotypic drug screen for compounds promoting rod cell survival in a larval zebrafish model of inducible RP. We tested 2,934 compounds, mostly human-approved drugs, across six concentrations, resulting in 113 compounds being identified as hits. Secondary tests of 42 high-priority hits confirmed eleven lead candidates. Leads were then evaluated in a series of mouse RP models in an effort to identify compounds effective across species and RP models, i.e., potential pan-disease therapeutics. Nine of eleven leads exhibited neuroprotective effects in mouse primary photoreceptor cultures, and three promoted photoreceptor survival in mouse rd1 retinal explants. Both shared and complementary mechanisms of action were implicated across leads. Shared target tests implicated parp1-dependent cell death in our zebrafish RP model. Complementation tests revealed enhanced and additive/synergistic neuroprotective effects of paired drug combinations in mouse photoreceptor cultures and zebrafish, respectively. These results highlight the value of cross-species/multi-model phenotypic drug discovery and suggest combinatorial drug therapies may provide enhanced therapeutic benefits for RP patients.
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- Jeff S Mumm
- Donald J Zack
- Baerbel Rohrer
- Baerbel Rohrer
- Baerbel Rohrer
- Jun O Liu
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
Animal experimentation: All animal studies described herein were performed in accordance with both the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) statement on the "Use of Animals in Ophthalmic and Vision Research" and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare (OLAW) policies regarding studies conducted in vertebrate species. Animal protocols were approved by the Animal Care and Use Committees of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine (protocol # FI19M489 and #MO20M253) and Medical University of South Carolina (protocol #2018-00399).
- James J Dowling, The Hospital for Sick Children, Canada
© 2021, Zhang et al.
This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.
Gain-of-function mutations in the protein-tyrosine phosphatase SHP2 are the most frequently occurring mutations in sporadic juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia (JMML) and JMML-like myeloproliferative neoplasm (MPN) associated with Noonan syndrome (NS). Hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells (HSPCs) are the disease propagating cells of JMML. Here, we explored transcriptomes of HSPCs with SHP2 mutations derived from JMML patients and a novel NS zebrafish model. In addition to major NS traits, CRISPR/Cas9 knock-in Shp2D61G mutant zebrafish recapitulated a JMML-like MPN phenotype, including myeloid lineage hyperproliferation, ex vivo growth of myeloid colonies, and in vivo transplantability of HSPCs. Single-cell mRNA sequencing of HSPCs from Shp2D61G zebrafish embryos and bulk sequencing of HSPCs from JMML patients revealed an overlapping inflammatory gene expression pattern. Strikingly, an anti-inflammatory agent rescued JMML-like MPN in Shp2D61G zebrafish embryos. Our results indicate that a common inflammatory response was triggered in the HSPCs from sporadic JMML patients and syndromic NS zebrafish, which potentiated MPN and may represent a future target for JMML therapies.
Zebrafish are an established research organism that has made many contributions to our understanding of vertebrate tissue and organ development, yet there are still significant gaps in our understanding of the genes that regulate gonad development, sex, and reproduction. Unlike the development of many organs, such as the brain and heart that form during the first few days of development, zebrafish gonads do not begin to form until the larval stage (≥5 dpf). Thus, forward genetic screens have identified very few genes required for gonad development. In addition, bulk RNA sequencing studies which identify genes expressed in the gonads do not have the resolution necessary to define minor cell populations that may play significant roles in development and function of these organs. To overcome these limitations, we have used single-cell RNA sequencing to determine the transcriptomes of cells isolated from juvenile zebrafish ovaries. This resulted in the profiles of 10,658 germ cells and 14,431 somatic cells. Our germ cell data represents all developmental stages from germline stem cells to early meiotic oocytes. Our somatic cell data represents all known somatic cell types, including follicle cells, theca cells and ovarian stromal cells. Further analysis revealed an unexpected number of cell subpopulations within these broadly defined cell types. To further define their functional significance, we determined the location of these cell subpopulations within the ovary. Finally, we used gene knockout experiments to determine the roles of foxl2l and wnt9b for oocyte development and sex determination and/or differentiation, respectively. Our results reveal novel insights into zebrafish ovarian development and function and the transcriptome profiles will provide a valuable resource for future studies.