Role of translational attenuation in inherited retinal degeneration

Christopher R. Starr, Cyril N.A. Nyankerh, Xiaoping Qi, Yang Hu, Oleg S. Gorbatyuk, Nahum Sonenberg, Michael E. Boulton, Marina S. Gorbatyuk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


PURPOSE. We reported previously that retinas of mice with inherited retinal degeneration make less protein than retinas of normal mice. Despite recent studies suggesting that diminished protein synthesis rates may contribute to neurologic disorders, a direct link between protein synthesis rates and the progression of neurodegeneration has not been established. Moreover, it remains unclear whether reduced protein synthesis could be involved in retinal pathogenesis. Dysregulation of AKT/mTOR signaling has been reported in the retina during retinal degeneration, but to what extent this signaling contributes to translational attenuation in these mice remains uncertain. METHODS. C57BL/6J and rd16 mice were subcutaneously injected with anisomycin to chronically inhibit protein synthesis rates. An AAV2 construct encoding constitutively active 4ebp1 was subretinally delivered in wildtype animals to lower protein synthesis rates. 4ebp1/ 2 were knocked out in rd16 mice. RESULTS. Anisomycin treatment lowered retinal translation rates, accelerated retinal degeneration in rd16 mice, and initiated cell death in the retinas of C57BL/6J mice. AAV-mediated transfer of constitutively active 4ebp1-4A into the subretinal space of wildtype animals inhibited protein synthesis, and led to reduced electroretinography amplitudes and fewer ONL nuclei. Finally, we report that restoring protein synthesis rates by knocking out 4ebp1/2 was associated with an approximately 2-fold increase in rhodopsin levels and a delay in retinal degeneration in rd16 mice. CONCLUSIONS. Our study indicates that protein synthesis inhibition is likely not a cell defense mechanism in the retina by which deteriorating photoreceptors survive, but may be harmful to degenerating retinas, and that restoring protein synthesis may have therapeutic potential in delaying the progression of retinal degeneration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4849-4857
Number of pages9
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
Issue number14
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Ciliopathy
  • Integrated stress response
  • Neuroprotection
  • Retinal degeneration
  • Translational attenuation


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