Axons mediate the distribution of arylsulfatase a within the mouse hippocampus upon gene delivery

Tonia Luca, Maria I. Givogri, Laura Perani, Francesca Galbiati, Antonia Follenzi, Luigi Naldini, Ernesto R. Bongarzone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Axonal transport of the lysosomal enzyme arylsulfatase A (ARSA) may be an additional mechanism of enzyme distribution after in vivo brain gene transfer in an animal model of metachromatic leukodystrophy (MLD). Direct molecular demonstration of the movement of this lysosomal enzyme within axonal networks was missing. We generated lentiviral vectors carrying the ARSA cDNA tagged with hemagglutinin or the green fluorescent protein and examined the subcellular localization and anatomical distribution of the tagged enzymes within the MLD hippocampus after in vivo lentiviral gene transfer. The use of tagged ARSA allowed direct real-time observation and tracking of axon-dendritic transport of the enzyme after lentiviral gene therapy. Tagged ARSA was expressed in transduced pyramidal, granule, and hilar neurons within the lentiviral-injected side and was robustly contained in vesicles within ipsilateral axon-dendritic processes as well as in vesicles associated with contralateral axons and commissural axons of the ventral hippocampal commissure. Axonal transport of tagged ARSA led to the correction of hippocampal defects in long-term treated MLD mice, which was accompanied by enzyme uptake in nontransduced contralateral neurons, enzyme accumulation within the lysosomal compartment, and clearance of sulfatide storage deposits in this region of the MLD brain. These results contribute to the understanding of the mechanisms of distribution of lysosomal enzymes within the mammalian brain after direct gene therapy, demonstrating the use of neural processes for enzyme transport.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)669-679
Number of pages11
JournalMolecular Therapy
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2005


  • Axonal transport
  • Hippocampus
  • Lentiviral vector
  • Leukodystrophy
  • Myelin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology


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