School of Veterinary Medicine
The School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania was founded in 1884, and has a long-standing tradition as a global leader in veterinary medicine education, research, and clinical care, with a tradition of compassionate clinical expertise, intellectual rigor and the pursuit of innovative thinking.
Our mission at Penn Vet is to train the next generation of veterinary leaders to advance healthcare outcomes and access, ensure global health, bolster sustainable agriculture, support interdisciplinary career paths, and foster diversity, equity, and inclusion in the profession.
PublicationExonic SINE Insertion in STK38L Causes Canine Early Retinal Degeneration (erd)(2010-12-01) Goldstein, Orly; Aguirre, Gustavo D; Acland, Gregory MFine mapping followed by candidate gene analysis of erd — a canine hereditary retinal degeneration characterized by aberrant photoreceptor development — established that the disease cosegregates with a SINE insertion in exon 4 of the canine STK38L/NDR2 gene. The mutation removes exon 4 from STK38L transcripts and is predicted to remove much of the N terminus from the translated protein, including binding sites for S100B and Mob proteins, part of the protein kinase domain, and a Thr-75 residue critical for autophosphorylation. Although known to have roles in neuronal cell function, the STK38L pathway has not previously been implicated in normal or abnormal photoreceptor development. Loss of STK38L function in erd provides novel potential insights into the role of the STK38L pathway in neuronal and photoreceptor cell function, and suggests that genes in this pathway need to be considered as candidate genes for hereditary retinal degenerations. PublicationThe Pathology of the Feline Model of Mucopolysaccharidosis VI(1980-12-01) Haskins, Mark E; Aguirre, Gustavo D; Jezyk, Peter F; Patterson, Donald FThree cats with feline arylsulfatase-B-deficient mucopolysaccharidosis were studied by light and transmission electron microscopy. Membrane-bound cytoplasmic inclusions were present in hepatocytes, bone marrow granulocytes, vascular smooth muscle cells, and fibroblasts in skin, cornea, and cardiac valves. Central nervous system lesions were restricted to mild ventricular dilatation, perithelial cell vacuolation, and, in one animal, cord compression by vertebral exostoses. The lesions in these cats closely resembled those described in human patients with mucopolysaccharidosis VI (Maroteaux-Lamy syndrome). PublicationRadiation Hybrid Mapping of Cataract Genes in the Dog(2006-05-24) Hunter, Linda S; Aguirre, Gustavo D; Johnson, Jennifer L; Zangerl, Barbara; Galibert, Francis; Andre, Catherine; Kirkness, Ewen; Talamas, Elijah; Acland, Gregory MPurpose: To facilitate the molecular characterization of naturally occurring cataracts in dogs by providing the radiation hybrid location of 21 cataract-associated genes along with their closely associated polymorphic markers. These can be used for segregation testing of the candidate genes in canine cataract pedigrees. Methods: Twenty-one genes with known mutations causing hereditary cataracts in man and/or mouse were selected and mapped to canine chromosomes using a canine:hamster radiation hybrid RH5000 panel. Each cataract gene ortholog was mapped in relation to over 3,000 markers including microsatellites, ESTs, genes, and BAC clones. The resulting independently determined RH-map locations were compared with the corresponding gene locations from the draft sequence of the canine genome. Results: Twenty-one cataract orthologs were mapped to canine chromosomes. The genetic locations and nearest polymorphic markers were determined for 20 of these orthologs. In addition, the resulting cataract gene locations, as determined experimentally by this study, were compared with those determined by the canine genome project. All genes mapped within or near chromosomal locations with previously established homology to the corresponding human gene locations based on canine:human chromosomal synteny. Conclusions: The location of selected cataract gene orthologs in the dog, along with their nearest polymorphic markers, serves as a resource for association and linkage testing in canine pedigrees segregating inherited cataracts. The recent development of canine genomic resources make canine models a practical and valuable resource for the study of human hereditary cataracts. Canine models can serve as large animal models intermediate between mouse and man for both gene discovery and the development of novel cataract therapies. PublicationPosterior Lenticonus in the Dog(1973-07-01) Aguirre, Gustavo D; Bistner, Stephen IPosterior lenticonus is a congenital defect of the posterior lenticular surface. The posterior cortical and capsular regions of the lens have a circumscribed conelike or globular protrusion of variable size. Opacities may be present in the region of the conus. The defect has been reported in man, rabbits, calves and mice. This report documents 2 cases in unrelated dogs. The possible mechanism for the formation of this defect is discussed. PublicationBEST1 Gene Therapy Corrects a Diffuse Retina-Wide Microdetachment Modulated by Light Exposure(2018-03-20) Guziewicz, Karina E; Cideciyan, Artur V; Beltran, William A; Komáromy, András M; Dufour, Valerie L; Swider, Malgorzata; Iwabe, Simone; Sumaroka, Alexander; Kendrick, Brian T; Ruthel, Gordon; Chiodo, Vince A; Heon, Elise; Hauswirth, William W; Jacobson, Samuel GMutations in the BEST1 gene cause detachment of the retina and degeneration of photoreceptor (PR) cells due to a primary channelopathy in the neighboring retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) cells. The pathophysiology of the interaction between RPE and PR cells preceding the formation of retinal detachment remains not well-understood. Our studies of molecular pathology in the canine BEST1 disease model revealed retina-wide abnormalities at the RPE-PR interface associated with defects in the RPE microvillar ensheathment and a cone PR-associated insoluble interphotoreceptor matrix. In vivo imaging demonstrated a retina-wide RPE-PR microdetachment, which contracted with dark adaptation and expanded upon exposure to a moderate intensity of light. Subretinal BEST1 gene augmentation therapy using adeno-associated virus 2 reversed not only clinically detectable subretinal lesions but also the diffuse microdetachments. Immunohistochemical analyses showed correction of the structural alterations at the RPE-PR interface in areas with BEST1 transgene expression. Successful treatment effects were demonstrated in three different canine BEST1 genotypes with vector titers in the 0.1-to-5E11 vector genomes per mL range. Patients with biallelic BEST1 mutations exhibited large regions of retinal lamination defects, severe PR sensitivity loss, and slowing of the retinoid cycle. Human translation of canine BEST1 gene therapy success in reversal of macro- and microdetachments through restoration of cytoarchitecture at the RPE-PR interface has promise to result in improved visual function and prevent disease progression in patients affected with bestrophinopathies. PublicationA Non-Stop S-Antigen Gene Mutation Is Associated With Late Onset Hereditary Retinal Degeneration in Dogs(2013-08-01) Goldstein, Orly; Aguirre, Gustavo D; Acland, Gregory MPurpose: To identify the causative mutation of canine progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) segregating as an adult onset autosomal recessive disorder in the Basenji breed of dog. Methods: Basenji dogs were ascertained for the PRA phenotype by clinical ophthalmoscopic examination. Blood samples from six affected cases and three nonaffected controls were collected, and DNA extraction was used for a genome-wide association study using the canine HD Illumina single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) array and PLINK. Positional candidate genes identified within the peak association signal region were evaluated. Results: The highest -Log10(P) value of 4.65 was obtained for 12 single nucleotide polymorphisms on three chromosomes. Homozygosity and linkage disequilibrium analyses favored one chromosome, CFA25, and screening of the S-antigen (SAG) gene identified a non-stop mutation (c.1216T>C), which would result in the addition of 25 amino acids (p.*405Rext*25). Conclusions: Identification of this non-stop SAG mutation in dogs affected with retinal degeneration establishes this canine disease as orthologous to Oguchi disease and SAG-associated retinitis pigmentosa in humans, and offers opportunities for genetic therapeutic intervention. PublicationCongenital Stationary Night Blindness in the Dog: Common Mutation in the RPE65 Gene Indicates Founder Effect(1998-10-30) Baldwin, Victoria; Aguirre, Gustavo D; Pearce-Kelling, Sue; Narfström, Kristina; Ray, Kunal; Acland, Gregory MPurpose: To clone and characterize the canine RPE65 cDNA from normal dog, examine for mutations, and establish if the mutation identified in Swedish briard dogs with retinal dystrophy is present in dogs of the same breed that originated from the United States and other countries, and are affected with congenital stationary night blindness. Methods: Fifteen briard dogs were studied, of which 10 were affected with csnb, and five were clinically normal. In addition, we tested samples from four Swedish dogs, and samples from a briard affected with progressive retinal atrophy. RPE65 cDNA was cloned a from retinal cDNA library by PCR, and from canine retina by RT-PCR. ERG and morphology were used to characterize csnb. Results: The normal RPE65 cDNA spans 1724 nucleotides (GenBank accession number AF084537), and includes 1602 nucleotides of coding sequence; the deduced amino acid sequence shares 98%, 97%, and 93% identity with homologous human, bovine, and rat sequences, respectively. A homozygous four nucleotide (AAGA) deletion, representing nucleotides 487-490 of wildtype RPE65 sequence, was found only in csnb and retinal dystrophy affected dogs; heterozygous animals had normal and mutant alleles. The mutation produces a frameshift, causing a deduced mistranslation with a premature stop codon. The mutation causes retinal dysfunction and RPE accumulation of lipid vacuoles. Conclusions: Identification of the same mutation in csnb and retinal dystrophy confirms the molecular identity of the two disorders. A common mutation in dogs derived from different countries suggests a founder effect causing the propagation of a common mutant allele in the population at risk. PublicationIdentification of Genetic Variation and Haplotype Structure of the Canine ABCA4 Gene for Retinal Disease Association Studies(2010-10-01) Zangerl, Barbara; Aguirre, Gustavo D; Acland, Gregory MOver 200 mutations in the retina specific member of the ATP-binding cassette transporter superfamily (ABCA4) have been associated with a diverse group of human retinal diseases. The disease mechanisms, and genotype–phenotype associations, nonetheless, remain elusive in many cases. As orthologous genes are commonly mutated in canine models of human blinding disorders, canine ABCA4 appears to be an ideal candidate gene to identify and study sequence changes in dogs affected by various forms of inherited retinal degeneration. However, the size of the gene and lack of haplotype assignment significantly limit targeted association and/or linkage approaches. This study assessed the naturally observed sequence diversity of ABCA4 in the dog, identifying 80% of novel variations. While none of the observed polymorphisms have been associated with blinding disorders to date, breed and potentially disease specific haplotypes have been identified. Moreover, a tag SNP map of 17 (15) markers has been established that accurately predicts common ABCA4 haplotypes (frequency > 5%) explaining >85% (>80%) of the observed genetic diversity and will considerably advance future studies. Our sequence analysis of the complete canine ABCA4 coding region will clearly provide a baseline and tools for future association studies and comparative genomics to further delineate the role of ABCA4 in canine blinding disorders. PublicationCanine RD3 Mutation Establishes Rod-Cone Dysplasia Type 2 (rcd2) as Ortholog of Human and Murine rd3(2009-02-01) Kukekova, Anna V; Aguirre, Gustavo D; Johnson, Jennifer L; Richardson, Malcolm A; Pearce-Kelling, Susan E; Swaroop, Anand; Friedman, James S; Acland, Gregory MRod-cone dysplasia type 2 (rcd2) is an autosomal recessive disorder that segregates in collie dogs. Linkage disequilibrium and meiotic linkage mapping were combined to take advantage of population structure within this breed and to fine map rcd2 to a 230-kb candidate region that included the gene C1orf36 responsible for human and murine rd3, and within which all affected dogs were homozygous for one haplotype. In one of three identified canine retinal RD3 splice variants, an insertion was found that cosegregates with rcd2 and is predicted to alter the last 61 codons of the normal open reading frame and further extend the open reading frame. Thus, combined meiotic linkage and LD mapping within a single canine breed can yield critical reduction of the disease interval when appropriate advantage is taken of within-breed population structure. This should permit a similar approach to tackle other hereditary traits that segregate in single closed populations. PublicationImprovement in Vision: A New Goal for Treatment of Hereditary Retinal Degenerations(2015-05-04) Jacobson, Samuel G; Cideciyan, Artur V; Roman, Alejandro J; Sumaroka, Alexander; Hauswirth, William W; Palczewski, KrzysztofIntroduction: Inherited retinal degenerations (IRDs) have long been considered untreatable and incurable. Recently, one form of early-onset autosomal recessive IRD, Leber congenital amaurosis (LCA) caused by mutations in RPE65 (retinal pigment epithelium-specific protein 65 kDa) gene, has responded with some improvement of vision to gene augmentation therapy and oral retinoid administration. This early success now requires refinement of such therapeutics to fully realize the impact of these major scientific and clinical advances. Areas covered: Progress toward human therapy for RPE65-LCA is detailed from the understanding of molecular mechanisms to preclinical proof-of-concept research to clinical trials. Unexpected positive and complicating results in the patients receiving treatment are explained. Logical next steps to advance the clinical value of the therapeutics are suggested. Expert opinion: The first molecularly based early-phase therapies for an IRD are remarkably successful in that vision has improved and adverse events are mainly associated with surgical delivery to the subretinal space. Yet, there are features of the gene augmentation therapeutic response, such as slowed kinetics of night vision, lack of foveal cone function improvement and relentlessly progressive retinal degeneration despite therapy, that still require research attention.