Examination of a blood-brain barrier targeting β-galactosidase-monoclonal antibody fusion protein in a murine model of GM1-gangliosidosis

Michael J. Przybilla, Christine Stewart, Timothy W. Carlson, Li Ou, Brenda L. Koniar, Rohini Sidhu, Pamela J. Kell, Xuntian Jiang, Jeanine R. Jarnes, M. Gerard O'Sullivan, Chester B. Whitley

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12 Scopus citations


GM1-gangliosidosis is a lysosomal disease resulting from a deficiency in the hydrolase β-galactosidase (β-gal) and subsequent accumulation of gangliosides, primarily in neuronal tissue, leading to progressive neurological deterioration and eventually early death. Lysosomal diseases with neurological involvement have limited non-invasive therapies due to the inability of lysosomal enzymes to cross the blood-brain barrier (BBB). A novel fusion enzyme, labeled mTfR-GLB1, was designed to act as a ferry across the BBB by fusing β-gal to the mouse monoclonal antibody against the mouse transferrin receptor and tested in a murine model of GM1-gangliosidosis (β-gal−/−). Twelve hours following a single intravenous dose of mTfR-GLB1 (5.0 mg/kg) into adult β-gal−/− mice showed clearance of enzyme activity in the plasma and an increase in β-gal enzyme activity in the liver and spleen. Long-term efficacy of mTfR-GLB1 was assessed by treating β-gal−/− mice intravenously twice a week with a low (2.5 mg/kg) or high (5.0 mg/kg) dose of mTfR-GLB1 for 17 weeks. Long-term studies showed high dose mice gained weight normally compared to vehicle-treated β-gal−/− mice, which are significantly heavier than heterozygous controls. Behavioral assessment at six months of age using the pole test showed β-gal−/− mice treated with mTfR-GLB1 had improved motor function. Biochemical analysis showed an increase in β-gal enzyme activity in the high dose group from negligible levels to 20% and 11% of heterozygous levels in the liver and spleen, respectively. Together, these data show that mTfR-GLB1 is a catalytically active β-gal fusion enzyme in vivo that is readily taken up into tissues. Despite these indications of bioactivity, behavior tests other than the pole test, including the Barnes maze, inverted screen, and accelerating rotarod, showed limited or no improvement of treated mice compared to β-gal−/− mice receiving vehicle only. Further, administration of mTfR-GLB1 was insufficient to create measurable increases in β-gal enzyme activity in the brain or reduce ganglioside content (biochemically and morphologically).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100748
JournalMolecular Genetics and Metabolism Reports
StatePublished - Jun 2021

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© 2021


  • Enzyme replacement therapy
  • Fusion enzyme
  • GM1-gangliosidosis


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