Inhibition of epigenetic modifiers LSD1 and HDAC1 blocks rod photoreceptor death in mouse models of retinitis pigmentosa

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Epigenetic modifiers are increasingly being investigated as potential therapeutics to modify and overcome disease phenotypes. Diseases of the nervous system present a particular problem as neurons are postmitotic and demonstrate relatively stable gene expression patterns and chromatin organization. We have explored the ability of epigenetic modifiers to prevent degeneration of rod photoreceptors in a mouse model of retinitis pigmentosa (RP), using rd10 mice of both sexes. The histone modification eraser enzymes lysine demethylase 1 (LSD1) and histone deacetylase 1 (HDAC1) are known to have dramatic effects on the development of rod photoreceptors. In the RP mouse model, inhibitors of these enzymes blocked rod degeneration, preserved vision, and affected the expression of multiple genes including maintenance of rod-specific transcripts and downregulation of those involved in inflammation, gliosis, and cell death. The neuroprotective activity of LSD1 inhibitors includes two pathways. First, through targeting histone modifications, they increase accessibility of chromatin and upregulate neuroprotective genes, such as from the Wnt pathway. We propose that this process is going in rod photoreceptors. Second, through nonhistone targets, they inhibit transcription of inflammatory genes and inflammation. This process is going in microglia, and lack of inflammation keeps rod photoreceptors alive.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6775-6792
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number31
StatePublished - Aug 4 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Neuroscience


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