Genetic-dissection studies carried out with Down syndrome (DS) murine models point to the critical contribution of Dyrk1A overexpression to the motor abnormalities and cognitive deficits displayed in DS individuals. In the present study we have used a murine model overexpressing Dyrk1A (TgDyrk1A mice) to evaluate whether functional CNS defects could be corrected with an inhibitory RNA against Dyrk1A, delivered by bilateral intrastriatal injections of adeno-associated virus type 2 (AAVshDyrk1A). We report that AAVshDyrk1A efficiently transduced HEK293 cells and primary neuronal cultures, triggering the specific inhibition of Dyrk1A expression. Injecting the vector into the striata of TgDyrk1A mice resulted in a restricted, long-term transduction of the striatum. This gene therapy was found to be devoid of toxicity and succeeded in normalizing Dyrk1A protein levels in TgDyrk1A mice. Importantly, the behavioral studies of the adult TgDyrk1A mice treated showed a reversal of corticostriatal-dependent phenotypes, as revealed by the attenuation of their hyperactive behavior, the restoration of motor-coordination defects, and an improvement in sensorimotor gating. Taken together, the data demonstrate that normalizing Dyrk1A gene expression in the striatum of adult TgDyrk1A mice, by means of AAVshRNA, clearly reverses motor impairment. Furthermore, these results identify Dyrk1A as a potential target for therapy in DS.
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