Development and Phenotypic Characterisation of a CRISPR/Cas9 Model of Riboflavin Transporter Deficiency in Zebrafish (2023)

Choueiri, C. (2023). Development and phenotypic characterisation of a CRISPR/Cas9 model of riboflavin transporter deficiency in zebrafish [Master's thesis, University of Ottawa]. uO Research - University of Ottawa.



Riboflavin transport is mediated, in part, by riboflavin transporter proteins 2 and 3, encoded by SLC52A2 and SLC52A3, respectively. Biallelic mutations in SLC52A2 and SLC52A3 impair riboflavin transporter protein function and riboflavin transport, causing disruptions to mitochondrial metabolism which result in sensory and motor neurodegeneration and give rise to riboflavin transporter deficiency (RTD) in humans. RTD is a rare neurodegenerative disease characterised by respiratory compromise, muscle and limb weakness, and vision and hearing impairments. RTD patients are treated with high-dose riboflavin supplementation which is effective in over 70% of cases but can be ineffective due to rapid excretion of riboflavin when its plasma concentration exceeds 0.5 μM. To address the need for alternative or supplemental RTD treatment, this study generated morpholino-mediated knockdown and CRISPR/Cas9 models of RTD in zebrafish. An RTD-like phenotype is observed in these RTD models including hearing loss, decreased motor axon length, and impaired locomotor activity. The slc52a3 morphant phenotype was found to be specific via coinjection of slc52a3 morpholino/human SLC52A3 mRNA, which achieved effective rescue of the morphant phenotype, as well as slc52a3 morpholino/p53 morpholino coinjection, which maintains the slc52a3 morphant phenotype. In line with clinical findings, riboflavin supplementation resulted in some improvement of the morphant phenotype. Probenecid was selected as a candidate drug due to its inhibitory effect on OAT-3, which mediates riboflavin excretion. However, supplementing riboflavin treatment with probenecid provided no additional benefit to the slc52a3 knockdown model. Further development of CRISPR/Cas9-knockout lines of slc52a2 and slc52a3, as well continued therapeutic screening of riboflavin and probenecid and consideration of alternative therapeutics will provide more opportunities to uncover novel therapeutic strategies to improve RTD treatment.