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AAV-BR1 targets endothelial cells in the retina to reveal their morphological diversity and to deliver Cx43

Journal Article
Elena Ivanova, Carlo Corona, Cyril G Eleftheriou, Randy F Stout Jr, Jakob K├Ârbelin, Botir T Sagdullaev
Year Published: 
J Comp Neurol . 2022 Jun;530(8):1302-1317. doi: 10.1002/cne.25277. Epub 2021 Dec 9.
PMID: 34811744 | DOI: 10.1002/cne.25277
Abstract on PubMed


Endothelial cells (ECs) are key players in the development and maintenance of the vascular tree, the establishment of the blood brain barrier and control of blood flow. Disruption in ECs is an early and active component of vascular pathogenesis. However, our ability to selectively target ECs in the CNS for identification and manipulation is limited. Here, in the mouse retina, a tractable model of the CNS, we utilized a recently developed AAV-BR1 system to identify distinct classes of ECs along the vascular tree using a GFP reporter. We then developed an inducible EC-specific ectopic Connexin 43 (Cx43) expression system using AAV-BR1-CAG-DIO-Cx43-P2A-DsRed2 in combination with a mouse line carrying inducible CreERT2 in ECs. We targeted Cx43 because its loss has been implicated in microvascular impairment in numerous diseases such as diabetic retinopathy and vascular edema. GFP-labeled ECs were numerous, evenly distributed along the vascular tree and their morphology was polarized with respect to the direction of blood flow. After tamoxifen induction, ectopic Cx43 was specifically expressed in ECs. Similarly to endogenous Cx43, ectopic Cx43 was localized at the membrane contacts of ECs and it did not affect tight junction proteins. The ability to enhance gap junctions in ECs provides a precise and potentially powerful tool to treat microcirculation deficits, an early pathology in numerous diseases. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

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