Lab events

New collaboration study on retinal ganglion cells regeneration is live

The limited regenerative potential of the optic nerve in adult mammals presents a major challenge for restoring vision after optic nerve trauma or disease. The mechanisms of this regenerative failure are not fully understood. Here, through small-molecule and genetic screening for epigenetic modulators, we identify DNA methyltransferase 3a (DNMT3a) as a potent inhibitor of axon regeneration in mouse and human retinal explants. Selective suppression of DNMT3a in retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) by gene targeting or delivery of shRNA leads to robust, full-length regeneration of RGC axons through the optic nerve and restoration of vision in adult mice after nerve crush injury. Genome-wide bisulfite and transcriptome profiling in combination with single nucleus RNA-sequencing of RGCs revealed selective DNA demethylation and reactivation of genetic programs supporting neuronal survival and axonal growth/regeneration by DNMT3a deficiency. This was accompanied by the suppression of gene networks associated with apoptosis and inflammation. Our results identify DNMT3a as the central orchestrator of an RGC-intrinsic mechanism that limits optic nerve regeneration. Suppressing DNMT3a expression in RGCs unlocks the epigenetic switch for optic nerve regeneration and presents a promising therapeutic avenue for effectively reversing vision loss resulted from optic nerve trauma or diseases.

Full text: bioRxiv: