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1.  Defects in retinal pigment epithelium cell proliferation and retinal attachment in mutant mice with p27Kip1 gene ablation 
Molecular Vision  2007;13:273-286.
Little is known about the mechanisms that regulate cell cycle withdrawal of the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) during development, or about the mechanisms maintaining epithelial cell quiescence in adult retinas. The present study examines the potential role of the negative cell cycle regulator p27Kip1 in controlling RPE proliferation, using mice with targeted ablation of the p27Kip1 gene.
Ocular tissues were obtained from wild-type and p27Kip1-null mice at several postnatal ages. Following aldehyde fixation, eyes were processed intact for JB-4 histology and electron microscopy. Alternatively, tissues were removed by manual or enzymatic dissection in order to obtain flat-mounts of the RPE attached to either the choroid-sclera or neural retina, respectively. Epithelial flat-mounts were either left unlabeled, in which case melanin pigment provided internal contrast, or labeled with Alexa Fluor 488-phalloidin and propidium iodide to visualize cell boundaries and nuclei, respectively.
Morphometric analysis using transverse plastic sections revealed a 96% increase in nuclear density and a 12% increase in thickness (apical to basal) for mutant vs. normal epithelia at postnatal day 35 (P35). These changes were not restricted to central or peripheral regions, and were uncorrelated with focal areas of dysplasia seen in the mutant neural retina. When similar tissues were viewed as flat-mounts, an observed 100% increase in nuclear density was accompanied by only a 46% enhancement in cellular density. This resulted in a larger proportion of multinucleated cells in the nullizygous RPE as compared with the wild-type epithelium (91 versus 47%). Such a pattern was achieved relatively early in development since, at P7 when the increase in RPE nuclear density was essentially complete, cellular density was augmented by only 39%. In addition to these proliferative changes, individual epithelial cells sometimes exhibited structural abnormalities, including an altered cortical actin cytoskeleton and displacement of nuclei from their normal central position. Surprisingly, while the RPE cells of null animals were similar ultrastructurally to those of the wild-type, interdigitation of their microvillous processes with outer segments was incomplete. Quantitative analysis revealed that such areas of detachment characterize, on average, 42% of the nullizygous retina, and that there is little correlation between detachment and neural retina dysplasia from one eye to another. Together with parallel evidence demonstrating a substantial decline in the apparent adhesiveness of mutant retinas relative to the normal tissue, the data is strongly indicative of an altered epithelium-photoreceptor interaction following gene ablation.
The absence of a functional p27Kip1 gene results in enhanced RPE nuclear division, without a commensurate increase in cell division. Although the mutant epithelium as a whole appears structurally normal, individual cells exhibit cytoskeletal changes and their interaction with the neural retina is compromised.
PMCID: PMC2633469  PMID: 17356514
2.  Accelerated turnover of taste bud cells in mice deficient for the cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor p27Kip1 
BMC Neuroscience  2011;12:34.
Mammalian taste buds contain several specialized cell types that coordinately respond to tastants and communicate with sensory nerves. While it has long been appreciated that these cells undergo continual turnover, little is known concerning how adequate numbers of cells are generated and maintained. The cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor p27Kip1 has been shown to influence cell number in several developing tissues, by coordinating cell cycle exit during cell differentiation. Here, we investigated its involvement in the control of taste cell replacement by examining adult mice with targeted ablation of the p27Kip1 gene.
Histological and morphometric analyses of fungiform and circumvallate taste buds reveal no structural differences between wild-type and p27Kip1-null mice. However, when examined in functional assays, mutants show substantial proliferative changes. In BrdU incorporation experiments, more S-phase-labeled precursors appear within circumvallate taste buds at 1 day post-injection, the earliest time point examined. After 1 week, twice as many labeled intragemmal cells are present, but numbers return to wild-type levels by 2 weeks. Mutant taste buds also contain more TUNEL-labeled cells and 50% more apoptotic bodies than wild-type controls. In normal mice, p27 Kip1 is evident in a subset of receptor and presynaptic taste cells beginning about 3 days post-injection, correlating with the onset of taste cell maturation. Loss of gene function, however, does not alter the proportions of distinct immunohistochemically-identified cell types.
p27Kip1 participates in taste cell replacement by regulating the number of precursor cells available for entry into taste buds. This is consistent with a role for the protein in timing cell cycle withdrawal in progenitor cells. The equivalence of mutant and wild-type taste buds with regard to cell number, cell types and general structure contrasts with the hyperplasia and tissue disruption seen in certain developing p27Kip1-null sensory organs, and may reflect a compensatory capability inherent in the regenerative taste system.
PMCID: PMC3110126  PMID: 21507264

Results 1-2 (2)