In vivo genome editing improves motor function and extends survival in a mouse model of ALS

Thomas Gaj, David S. Ojala, Freja K. Ekman, Leah C. Byrne, Prajit Limsirichai, David V. Schaffer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a fatal and incurable neurodegenerative disease characterized by the progressive loss of motor neurons in the spinal cord and brain. In particular, autosomal dominant mutations in the superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1) gene are responsible for ∼20% of all familial ALS cases. The clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)-CRISPR-associated (Cas9) genome editing system holds the potential to treat autosomal dominant disorders by facilitating the introduction of frameshift-induced mutations that can disable mutant gene function. We demonstrate that CRISPR-Cas9 can be harnessed to disrupt mutant SOD1 expression in the G93ASOD1 mousemodel of ALS following in vivo delivery using an adeno-associated virus vector. Genome editing reduced mutant SOD1 protein by >2.5-fold in the lumbar and thoracic spinal cord, resulting in improved motor function and reduced muscle atrophy. Crucially, ALSmice treated by CRISPR-mediated genome editing had ∼50% more motor neurons at end stage and displayed a ∼37% delay in disease onset and a ∼25% increase in survival compared to control animals. Thus, this study illustrates the potential for CRISPR-Cas9 to treat SOD1-linked forms of ALS and other central nervous system disorders caused by autosomal dominant mutations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbereaar3952
JournalScience Advances
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


Dive into the research topics of 'In vivo genome editing improves motor function and extends survival in a mouse model of ALS'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this