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Deep phenotyping of a healthy human HAO1 knockout informs therapeutic development for primary hyperoxaluria type 1.

By Tracy L McGregor, Karen A Hunt, Paul Nioi, Dan Mason, Simina Ticau, Marissa Pelosi, Loken Perry, Sarah Finer, Christopher Griffiths, Daniel MacArthur, Richard C Trembath, Devin Oglesbee, John Lieske, John Wright, David Erbe, David A van Heel

Posted 18 Jan 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/524256

Primary Hyperoxaluria Type 1 (PH1) is a rare autosomal recessive metabolic disorder of oxalate metabolism leading to kidney failure as well as multi-organ damage. Overproduction of oxalate occurs in the liver due to an inherited genetic defect in the enzyme alanine-glyoxylate aminotransferase (AGXT), causing pathology due to the insolubility of calcium oxalate crystals in body fluids. The main current therapy is dual liver-kidney transplant, which incurs high morbidity and has poor availability in some health systems where PH1 is more prevalent. One approach currently in active clinical investigation targets HAO1 (hydroxyacid oxidase 1), encoding glycolate oxidase, to reduce substrate levels for oxalate production. To inform drug development, we sought individuals with reduced HAO1 function due to naturally occurring genetic variation. Analysis of loss of function variants in 141,456 sequenced individuals suggested individuals with complete HAO1 knockout would only be observed in 1 in 30 million outbred people. However in a large sequencing and health records program (Genes & Health), in populations with substantial autozygosity, we identified a healthy adult individual predicted to have complete knockout of HAO1 due to an ultra rare homozygous frameshift variant (rs1186715161, ENSP00000368066.3:p.Leu333SerfsTer4). Primary care and hospital health records confirmed no apparently related clinical phenotype. At recall, urine and plasma oxalate levels were normal, however plasma glycolate levels (171 nmol/mL) were 12 times the upper limit of normal in healthy, reference individuals (mean+2sd=14 nmol/mL, n=67) while her urinary glycolate levels were 6 times the upper limit of normal. Comparison with preclinical and phase 1 clinical trial data of an RNAi therapeutic targeting HAO1 (lumasiran) suggests the individual likely retains <2% residual glycolate oxidase activity. These results provide important data to support the safety of HAO1 inhibition as a potential chronic therapy for a devastating metabolic disease (PH1). We also suggest that the effect of glycolate oxidase suppression in any potential other roles in humans beyond glycolate oxidation do not lead to clinical phenotypes, at least in this specific individual. This demonstrates the value of studying the lifelong complete knockdown of a target protein in a living human to aid development of a potential therapeutic, both in de-risking the approach and providing potential hypotheses to optimize its development. Furthermore, therapy for PH1 is likely to be required lifelong, in contrast to data from chronicity studies in non-human species or relatively short-term therapeutic studies in people. Our approach demonstrates the potential for improved drug discovery through unlocking relevant evidence hiding in the diversity of human genetic variation.

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