Exp Eye Res. 2023 Sep 7:109647. doi: 10.1016/j.exer.2023.109647. Online ahead of print.
The retinoic acid-inducible gene I (RIG)-I-like receptor (RLR) family of RNA sensor proteins plays a key role in the innate immune response to viral nucleic acids, including viral gene delivery vectors, but little is known about the expression of RLR proteins in the retina. The purpose of this study was to characterize cell-specific expression patterns of RLR proteins in non-human primate (NHP) neural retina tissue and to examine if RLR pathway signaling restricts viral gene delivery transduction. Since RLR protein signaling converges at the mitochondrial antiviral signaling protein (MAVS), experiments were performed to determine if knockdown of MAVS affected FIVGFP transduction efficiency in the human Mueller cell line MIO-M1. Immunoblotting confirmed expression of RIG-I, melanoma differentiation-associated protein 5 (MDA5), laboratory of genetics and physiology 2 (LGP2), and MAVS proteins in MIO-M1 cells and NHP retina tissue. Double label immunofluorescence (IF) studies revealed RIG-I, LGP2, and MAVS were expressed in Mueller microglial cells in the NHP retina. In addition, LGP2 and MDA5 proteins were detected in cone and retinal ganglion cells (RGC). MDA5 was also present in a subset of calretinin positive amacrine cells, and in nuclei within the inner nuclear layer (INL). Knockdown of MAVS significantly increased the transduction efficiency of the lentiviral vector FIVGFP in MIO-M1 cells, compared to control cells. FIVGFP or AAVGFP challenge did not alter expression of the LGP2, MAVS, MDA5 or RIG-I genes in MIO-M1 cells or NHP retina tissue compared to media treated controls. Our data demonstrate that innate immune response proteins involved in viral RNA sensing, including MDA5, RIG-I, LGP2, and MAVS, are expressed in several cell types within the NHP neural retina. In addition, the MAVS protein restricts non-human lentiviral transduction efficiency in MIO-M1 cells.