Mucopolysaccharidosis type I-Hurler (MPS I-H) is a neurodegenerative lysosomal storage disorder (LSD) caused by inherited defects of the α-L-iduronidase (IDUA) gene. Current treatments are ineffective for treating central nervous system (CNS) manifestations because lysosomal enzymes do not effectively cross the blood-brain barrier (BBB). To enable BBB transport of the enzyme, we engineered a modified IDUA protein by adding a brain-targeting peptide from melanotransferrin. We demonstrated that fusion of melanotransferrin peptide (MTfp) at the N terminus of human IDUA (hIDUA) was enzymatically active and could efficiently cross the BBB in vitro. Then, liver-directed gene therapy using the adeno-associated virus 8 (AAV8) vector, which encoded the modified hIDUA cDNA driven by a liver-specific expression cassette was evaluated in an adult MPS I-H mouse model. The results showed that intravenous (i.v.) infusion of AAV8 resulted in sustained supraphysiological levels of IDUA activity and normalized glycosaminoglycan (GAG) accumulation in peripheral tissues. Addition of MTfp to the hIDUA N terminus allowed efficient BBB transcytosis and IDUA activity restoration in the brain, resulting in significant improvements in brain pathology and neurobehavioral deficits. Our results provide a novel strategy to develop minimally invasive therapies for treatment of MPS I-H and other neurodegenerative LSDs.

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