Expression of a Secretable, Cell-Penetrating CDKL5 Protein Enhances the Efficacy of Gene Therapy for CDKL5 Deficiency Disorder

Giorgio Medici, Marianna Tassinari, Giuseppe Galvani, Stefano Bastianini, Laura Gennaccaro, Manuela Loi, Nicola Mottolese, Sara Alvente, Chiara Berteotti, Giulia Sagona, Leonardo Lupori, Giulia Candini, Helen Rappe Baggett, Giovanna Zoccoli, Maurizio Giustetto, Alysson Muotri, Tommaso Pizzorusso, Hiroyuki Nakai, Stefania Trazzi, Elisabetta Ciani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although delivery of a wild-type copy of the mutated gene to cells represents the most effective approach for a monogenic disease, proof-of-concept studies highlight significant efficacy caveats for treatment of brain disorders. Herein, we develop a cross-correction-based strategy to enhance the efficiency of a gene therapy for CDKL5 deficiency disorder, a severe neurodevelopmental disorder caused by CDKL5 gene mutations. We created a gene therapy vector that produces an Igk-TATk-CDKL5 fusion protein that can be secreted via constitutive secretory pathways and, due to the cell-penetration property of the TATk peptide, internalized by cells. We found that, although AAVPHP.B_Igk-TATk-CDKL5 and AAVPHP.B_CDKL5 vectors had similar brain infection efficiency, the AAVPHP.B_Igk-TATk-CDKL5 vector led to higher CDKL5 protein replacement due to secretion and penetration of the TATk-CDKL5 protein into the neighboring cells. Importantly, Cdkl5 KO mice treated with the AAVPHP.B_Igk-TATk-CDKL5 vector showed a behavioral and neuroanatomical improvement in comparison with vehicle or AAVPHP.B_CDKL5 vector-treated Cdkl5 KO mice. In conclusion, we provide the first evidence that a gene therapy based on a cross-correction approach is more effective at compensating Cdkl5-null brain defects than gene therapy based on the expression of the native CDKL5, opening avenues for the development of this innovative approach for other monogenic diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1886-1904
Number of pages19
Issue number6
StatePublished - Oct 2022


  • AAV gene therapy
  • Brain disorder
  • CDKL5
  • Cross-correction
  • Mouse model

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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