Stem Cell Reports. 2023 Nov 27:S2213-6711(23)00453-8. doi: 10.1016/j.stemcr.2023.11.004. Online ahead of print.
Autosomal dominant optic atrophy (ADOA), mostly caused by heterozygous OPA1 mutations and characterized by retinal ganglion cell (RGC) loss and optic nerve degeneration, is one of the most common types of inherited optic neuropathies. Previous work using a two-dimensional (2D) differentiation model of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) has investigated ADOA pathogenesis but failed to agree on the effect of OPA1 mutations on RGC differentiation. Here, we use 3D retinal organoids capable of mimicking in vivo retinal development to resolve the issue. We generated isogenic iPSCs carrying the hotspot OPA1 c.2708_2711delTTAG mutation and found that the mutant variant caused defective initial and terminal differentiation and abnormal electrophysiological properties of organoid-derived RGCs. Moreover, this variant inhibits progenitor proliferation and results in mitochondrial dysfunction. These data demonstrate that retinal organoids coupled with gene editing serve as a powerful tool to definitively identify disease-related phenotypes and provide valuable resources to further investigate ADOA pathogenesis and screen for ADOA therapeutics.