A recent and very interesting article by Vecsler and colleagues
Nonsense mutations in the X-linked methyl CpG-binding protein 2 (MECP2) comprise a significant proportion of causative MECP2 mutations in Rett syndrome (RTT). Naturally occurring aminoglycosides, such as gentamicin, have been shown to enable partial suppression of nonsense mutations related to several human genetic disorders, however, their clinical applicability has been compromised by parallel findings of severe toxic effects. Recently developed synthetic NB aminoglycosides have demonstrated significantly improved effects compared to gentamicin evident in substantially higher suppression and reduced acute toxicity in vitro.
We performed comparative study of suppression effects of the novel NB54 and gentamicin on three MECP2 nonsense mutations (R294X, R270X and R168X) common in RTT, using ex vivo treatment of primary fibroblasts from RTT patients harboring these mutations and testing for the C-terminal containing full-length MeCP2. We observed that NB54 induces dose-dependent suppression of MECP2 nonsense mutations more efficiently than gentamicin, which was evident at concentrations as low as 50 µg/ml. NB54 read-through activity was mutation specific, with maximal full-length MeCP2 recovery in R168X (38%), R270X (27%) and R294X (18%). In addition, the recovered MeCP2 was translocated to the cell nucleus and moreover led to parallel increase in one of the most important MeCP2 downstream effectors, the brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF).
Our findings suggest that NB54 may induce restoration of the potentially functional MeCP2 in primary RTT fibroblasts and encourage further studies of NB54 and other rationally designed aminoglycoside derivatives as potential therapeutic agents for nonsense MECP2 mutations in RTT.
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