Recently, AAV2.retro, a new capsid variant capable of efficient retrograde transport in brain, was generated in mice using a directed evolution approach. However, it remains unclear to what degree transport will be recapitulated in the substantially larger and more complex nonhuman primate (NHP) brain. Here, we compared the biodistribution of AAV2.retro with its parent serotype, AAV2, in adult macaques following delivery into the caudate and putamen, brain regions which comprise the striatum. While AAV2 transduction was primarily limited to the injected brain regions, AAV2.retro transduced cells in the striatum and in dozens of cortical and subcortical regions with known striatal afferents. We then evaluated the capability of AAV2.retro to deliver disease-related gene cargo to biologically-relevant NHP brain circuits by packaging a fragment of human mutant HTT, the causative gene mutation in Huntington’s disease. Following intra-striatal delivery, pathological mHTT-positive protein aggregates were distributed widely among cognitive, motor, and limbic cortico-basal ganglia circuits. Together, these studies demonstrate strong retrograde transport of AAV2.retro in NHP brain, highlight its utility in developing novel NHP models of brain disease and suggest its potential for querying circuit function and delivering therapeutic genes in the brain, particularly where treating dysfunctional circuits, versus single brain regions, is warranted.
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