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Targeting key enzymes that generate oxalate precursors or substrates is an alternative strategy to eliminate primary hyperoxaluria type I (PH1), the most common and life-threatening type of primary hyperoxaluria. The compact Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR) from the Prevotella and Francisella 1 (Cpf1) protein simplifies multiplex gene editing and allows for all-in-one adeno-associated virus (AAV) delivery. We hypothesized that the multiplex capabilities of the Cpf1 system could help minimize oxalate formation in PH1 by simultaneously targeting the hepatic hydroxyacid oxidase 1 (Hao1) and lactate dehydrogenase A (Ldha) genes. Study cohorts included treated PH1 rats (AgxtQ84X rats injected with AAV-AsCpf1 at 7 days of age), phosphate-buffered saline (PBS)-injected PH1 rats, untreated PH1 rats, and age-matched wild-type (WT) rats. The most efficient and specific CRISPR RNA (crRNA) pairs targeting the rat Hao1 and Ldha genes were initially screened ex vivo. In vivo experiments demonstrated efficient genome editing of the Hao1 and Ldha genes, primarily resulting in small deletions. This resulted in decreased transcription and translational expression of Hao1 and Ldha. Treatment significantly reduced urine oxalate levels, reduced kidney damage, and alleviated nephrocalcinosis in rats with PH1. No liver toxicity, ex-liver genome editing, or obvious off-target effects were detected. We demonstrated the AAV-AsCpf1 system can target multiple genes and rescue the pathogenic phenotype in PH1, serving as a proof-of-concept for the development of multiplex genome editing-based gene therapy.
Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection can result in more severe syndromes and poorer outcomes in patients with diabetes and obesity. However, the precise mechanisms responsible for the combined impact of corona virus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and diabetes have not yet been elucidated, and effective treatment options for SARS-CoV-2-infected diabetic patients remain limited. To investigate the disease pathogenesis, K18-hACE2 transgenic (hACE2Tg) mice with a leptin receptor deficiency (hACE2-Lepr-/- mice) or high-fat diet background (hACE2-HFD mice) were generated. The two mouse models were intranasally infected with a 5×105 median tissue culture infectious dose (TCID50) of SARS-CoV-2, with serum and lung tissue samples collected at 3 days post-infection. The hACE2-Lepr-/- mice were then administered a combination of low-molecular-weight heparin (LMWH) (1 mg/kg or 5 mg/kg) and insulin via subcutaneous injection prior to intranasal infection with 1×104 TCID50 of SARS-CoV-2. Daily drug administration continued until the euthanasia of the mice. Analyses of viral RNA loads, histopathological changes in lung tissue, and inflammation factors were conducted. Results demonstrated similar SARS-CoV-2 susceptibility in hACE2Tg mice under both lean (chow diet) and obese (HFD) conditions. However, compared to the hACE2-Lepr+/+ mice, hACE2-Lepr-/- mice exhibited more severe lung injury, enhanced expression of inflammatory cytokines and hypoxia-inducible factor-1α, and increased apoptosis. Moreover, combined LMWH and insulin treatment effectively reduced disease progression and severity, attenuated lung pathological changes, and mitigated inflammatory responses. In conclusion, pre-existing diabetes can lead to more severe lung damage upon SARS-CoV-2 infection, and LMWH may be a valuable therapeutic approach for managing COVID-19 patients with diabetes.