Inflammation is an umbrella feature of ageing. It is present in the aged retina and many retinal diseases including age-related macular degeneration (AMD). In ageing and in AMD mitochondrial function declines. In normal ageing this can be manipulated by brief exposure to 670 nm light on the retina, which increases mitochondrial membrane potential and reduces inflammation. Here we ask if 670 nm exposure has the same ability in an aged mouse model of AMD, the complement factor H knockout (CFH−/−) where inflammation is a key feature. Further, we ask whether this occurs when 670 nm is delivered briefly in environmental lighting rather than directly focussed on the retina. Mice were exposed to 670 nm for 6 minutes twice a day for 14 days in the form of supplemented environmental light. Exposed animals had significant increase in cytochrome c oxidase (COX), which is a mitochondrial enzyme regulating oxidative phosphorylation.There was a significant reduction in complement component C3, an inflammatory marker in the outer retina. Vimetin and glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) expression, which reflect retinal stress in Muller glia, were also significantly down regulated. There were also significant changes in outer retinal macrophage morphology. However, amyloid beta (Aβ) load, which also increases with age in the outer retina and is pro-inflammatory, did not change. Hence, 670 nm is effective in reducing inflammation probably via COX activation in mice with a genotype similar to that in 50% of AMD patients even when brief exposures are delivered via environmental lighting. Further, inflammation can be reduced independent of Aβ. The efficacy revealed here supports current early stage clinical trials of 670 nm in AMD patients.
The retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) is a pigmented monolayer of cells lying between the photoreceptors and a layer of fenestrated capillaries, the choriocapillaris. Choroideremia (CHM) is an X-linked progressive degeneration of these three layers caused by the loss of function of Rab Escort protein-1 (REP1). REP1 is involved in the prenylation of Rab proteins, key regulators of membrane trafficking. To study the pathological consequences of chronic disruption of membrane traffic in the RPE we used a cell type-specific knock-out mouse model of the disease, where the Chm/Rep1 gene is deleted only in pigmented cells (ChmFlox, Tyr-Cre+). Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) was used to quantitate the melanosome distribution in the RPE and immunofluorescent staining of rhodopsin was used to quantitate phagocytosed rod outer segments in retinal sections. The ultrastructure of the RPE and Bruch’s membrane at different ages was characterised by TEM to analyse age-related changes occurring as a result of defects in membrane traffic pathways. Chm/Rep1 gene knockout in RPE cells resulted in reduced numbers of melanosomes in the apical processes and delayed phagosome degradation. In addition, the RPE accumulated pathological changes at 5–6 months of age similar to those observed in 2-year old controls. These included the intracellular accumulation of lipofuscin-containing deposits, disorganised basal infoldings and the extracellular accumulation of basal laminar and basal linear deposits. The phenotype of the ChmFlox, Tyr-Cre+ mice suggests that loss of the Chm/Rep1 gene causes premature accumulation of features of aging in the RPE. Furthermore, the striking similarities between the present observations and some of the phenotypes reported in age-related macular degeneration (AMD) suggest that membrane traffic defects may contribute to the pathogenesis of AMD.
Retinitis pigmentosa (RP) relates to a group of hereditary neurodegenerative diseases of the retina. On the cellular level, RP results in the primary death of rod photoreceptors, caused by rod-specific mutations, followed by a secondary degeneration of genetically normal cones. Different mechanisms may influence the spread of cell death from one photoreceptor type to the other. As one of these mechanisms a gap junction-mediated bystander effect was proposed, i.e., toxic molecules generated in dying rods and propagating through gap junctions induce the death of healthy cone photoreceptors. We investigated whether disruption of rod-cone coupling can prevent secondary cone death and reduce the spread of degeneration. We tested this hypothesis in two different mouse models for retinal degeneration (rhodopsin knockout and rd1) by crossbreeding them with connexin36-deficient mice as connexin36 represents the gap junction protein on the cone side and lack thereof most likely disrupts rod-cone coupling. Using immunohistochemistry, we compared the progress of cone degeneration between connexin36-deficient mouse mutants and their connexin36-expressing littermates at different ages and assessed the accompanied morphological changes during the onset (rhodopsin knockout) and later stages of secondary cone death (rd1 mutants). Connexin36-deficient mouse mutants showed the same time course of cone degeneration and the same morphological changes in second order neurons as their connexin36-expressing littermates. Thus, our results indicate that disruption of connexin36-mediated rod-cone coupling does not stop, delay or spatially restrict secondary cone degeneration and suggest that the gap junction-mediated bystander effect does not contribute to the progression of RP.
The retina is the light-sensitive tissue of the eye that facilitates vision. Mutations within genes affecting eye development and retinal function cause a host of degenerative visual diseases, including retinitis pigmentosa and anophthalmia/microphthalmia. The characin fish Astyanax mexicanus includes both eyed (surface fish) and eyeless (cavefish) morphs that initially develop eyes with normal retina; however, early in development, the eyes of cavefish degenerate. Since both surface and cave morphs are members of the same species, they serve as excellent evolutionary mutant models with which to identify genes causing retinal degeneration. In this study, we crossed the eyed and eyeless forms of A. mexicanus and quantified the thickness of individual retinal layers among 115 F2 hybrid progeny. We used next generation sequencing (RAD-seq) and microsatellite mapping to construct a dense genetic map of the Astyanax genome, scan for quantitative trait loci (QTL) affecting retinal thickness, and identify candidate genes within these QTL regions. The map we constructed for Astyanax includes nearly 700 markers assembled into 25 linkage groups. Based on our scans with this map, we identified four QTL, one each associated with the thickness of the ganglion, inner nuclear, outer plexiform, and outer nuclear layers of the retina. For all but one QTL, cavefish alleles resulted in a clear reduction in the thickness of the affected layer. Comparative mapping of genetic markers within each QTL revealed that each QTL corresponds to an approximately 35 Mb region of the zebrafish genome. Within each region, we identified several candidate genes associated with the function of each affected retinal layer. Our study is the first to examine Astyanax retinal degeneration in the context of QTL mapping. The regions we identify serve as a starting point for future studies on the genetics of retinal degeneration and eye disease using the evolutionary mutant model Astyanax.
Small interfering RNA (siRNA) is a promising tool for the treatment of dominant diseases. Autosomal dominant eye disease like retinitis pigmentosa, are a leading cause of blindness. Mutations in rds/peripherin lead to the degeneration of photoreceptors and are associated with several autosomal retinal diseases. Our goal is to develop a gene therapy for rds mutations. We describe a siRNA based mutation-independent approach, targeting rds in which levels of endogenous mutant and wild-type mRNA were reduced, and a siRNA-resistant version of rds gene was supplied simultaneously. siRNAs and resistant rds were delivered to the photoreceptors by recombinant adeno-associated virus (rAAV) vector through subretinal injections. The retinal phenotype was examined, both structurally and functionally at different time points after rAAV delivery. We demonstrate suppression of rds transcript by up to 50% with concomitant expression of replacement transcript in the retina of mice in vivo. These results validate the concept of suppression of rds and replacement strategies of gene therapy with rAAV vectors containing siRNA.
Adeno-associated virus (AAV) is well established as a vehicle for in vivo gene transfer into the mammalian retina. This virus is promising not only for gene therapy of retinal diseases, but also for in vivo functional analysis of retinal genes. Previous reports have shown that AAV can infect various cell types in the developing mouse retina. However, AAV tropism in the developing retina has not yet been examined in detail.
We subretinally delivered seven AAV serotypes (AAV2/1, 2/2, 2/5, 2/8, 2/9, 2/10, and 2/11) of AAV-CAG-mCherry into P0 mouse retinas, and quantitatively evaluated the tropisms of each serotype by its infecting degree in retinal cells. After subretinal injection of AAV into postnatal day 0 (P0) mouse retinas, various retinal cell types were efficiently transduced with different AAVs. Photoreceptor cells were efficiently transduced with AAV2/5. Retinal cells, except for bipolar and Müller glial cells, were efficiently transduced with AAV2/9. Horizontal and/or ganglion cells were efficiently transduced with AAV2/1, AAV2/2, AAV2/8, AAV2/9 and AAV2/10. To confirm the usefulness of AAV-mediated gene transfer into the P0 mouse retina, we performed AAV-mediated rescue of the Cone-rod homeobox gene knockout (Crx KO) mouse, which exhibits an outer segment formation defect, flat electroretinogram (ERG) responses, and photoreceptor degeneration. We injected an AAV expressing Crx under the control of the Crx 2kb promoter into the neonatal Crx KO retina. We showed that AAV mediated-Crx expression significantly decreased the abnormalities of the Crx KO retina.
In the current study, we report suitable AAV tropisms for delivery into the developing mouse retina. Using AAV2/5 in photoreceptor cells, we demonstrated the possibility of gene replacement for the developmental disorder and subsequent degeneration of retinal photoreceptors caused by the absence of Crx.
The unfolded protein response (UPR) is a stress-induced cyto-protective mechanism elicited towards an influx of large amount of proteins in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). In the present study, we evaluated if AAV manipulates the UPR pathways during its infection. We first examined the role of the three major UPR axes, namely, endoribonuclease inositol-requiring enzyme-1 (IRE1α), activating transcription factor 6 (ATF6) and PKR-like ER kinase (PERK) in AAV infected cells. Total RNA from mock or AAV infected HeLa cells were used to determine the levels of 8 different ER-stress responsive transcripts from these pathways. We observed a significant up-regulation of IRE1α (up to 11 fold) and PERK (up to 8 fold) genes 12–48 hours after infection with self-complementary (sc)AAV2 but less prominent with single-stranded (ss)AAV2 vectors. Further studies demonstrated that scAAV1 and scAAV6 also induce cellular UPR in vitro, with AAV1 vectors activating the PERK pathway (3 fold) while AAV6 vectors induced a significant increase on all the three major UPR pathways [6–16 fold]. These data suggest that the type and strength of UPR activation is dependent on the viral capsid. We then examined if transient inhibition of UPR pathways by RNA interference has an effect on AAV transduction. siRNA mediated silencing of PERK and IRE1α had a modest effect on AAV2 and AAV6 mediated gene expression (∼1.5–2 fold) in vitro. Furthermore, hepatic gene transfer of scAAV2 vectors in vivo, strongly elevated IRE1α and PERK pathways (2 and 3.5 fold, respectively). However, when animals were pre-treated with a pharmacological UPR inhibitor (metformin) during scAAV2 gene transfer, the UPR signalling and its subsequent inflammatory response was attenuated concomitant to a modest 2.8 fold increase in transgene expression. Collectively, these data suggest that AAV vectors activate the cellular UPR pathways and their selective inhibition may be beneficial during AAV mediated gene transfer.
The current SIOP treatment protocol for Wilms’ tumor involves pre-operative chemotherapy followed by nephrectomy. Not all patients benefit equally from such chemotherapy. The aim of this study was to generate a miRNA profile of chemo resistant blastemal cells in high risk Wilms’ tumors which might serve as predictive markers of therapeutic response at the pre-treatment biopsy stage. We have shown here that unsupervised hierarchical clustering of genome-wide miRNA expression profiles can clearly separate intermediate risk tumors from high risk tumors. A total of 29 miRNAs were significantly differentially expressed between post-treatment intermediate risk and high risk groups, including miRNAs that have been previously linked to chemo resistance in other cancer types. Furthermore, 7 of these 29 miRNAs were already at the pre-treatment biopsy stage differentially expressed between cases ultimately deemed intermediate risk compared to high risk. These miRNA alterations include down-regulation in high risk cases of miR-193a.5p, miR-27a and the up-regulation of miR-483.5p, miR-628.5p, miR-590.5p, miR-302a and miR-367. The demonstration of such miRNA markers at the pre-treatment biopsy stage could permit stratification of patients to more tailored treatment regimens.
Endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress has been implicated in the pathology of cerebral ischemia. Apoptotic cell death occurs during prolonged period of stress or when the adaptive response fails. Hypothermia blocked the TNF or Fas-mediated extrinsic apoptosis pathway and the mitochondria pathway of apoptosis, however, whether hypothermia can block endoplasmic reticulum mediated apoptosis is never known. This study aimed to elucidate whether hypothermia attenuates brain cerebral ischemia/reperfusion (I/R) damage by suppressing ER stress-induced apoptosis. A 15 min global cerebral ischemia rat model was used in this study. Terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated dUTP nick end labeling (TUNEL) positive cells in hippocampus CA1 were assessed after reperfusion of the brain. The expressions of C/EBP-homolo gous protein (CHOP) and glucose-regulated protein 78 (GRP78) in ischemic hippocampus CA1 were measured at 6, 12, 24 and 48 h after reperfusion. The results showed that hypothermia significantly attenuated brain I/R injury, as shown by reduction in cell apoptosis, CHOP expression, and increase in GRP78 expression. These results suggest that hypothermia could protect brain from I/R injury by suppressing ER stress-induced apoptosis.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are important post-transcriptional regulators. Altered expression of miRNAs has recently demonstrated association with human ulcerative colitis (UC). In this study, we attempted to elucidate the roles of miR-126 in the pathogenesis of UC.
Expression of miR-126, miR-21, miR-375 and the potential targets NF-κB inhibitor alpha (IκBα, IKBA or NFKBIA), Polo-like kinase 2 (PLK2) and v-Crk sarcoma virus CT10 oncogene homolog (CRK) were assessed in 52 colonic biopsies from patients with active UC, inactive UC, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and from healthy subjects by quantitative RT-PCR and immunofluorescence analyses. Regulation of gene expression by miR-126 was assessed using luciferase reporter construct assays and specific miRNA mimic transfection.
We found that the expression of miR-126 and miR-21 were significantly increased in active UC group compared to the inactive UC, IBS and healthy control groups (P<0.05). In contrast, the expression of IKBA mRNA and protein was remarkably decreased in the active UC group compared with the other three groups (P<0.05). The expression of miR-126 and IKBA mRNA were inversely correlated in active UC patients (P<0.05). However the expression of miR-375, PLK2 and CRK showed no difference between each group. Furthermore, we demonstrate that endogenous miR-126 and exogenous miR-126 mimic can inhibit IκBα expression. Finally, mutating the miR-126 binding site of the IKBA 3′-UTR reporter construct restored reporter gene expression.
miR-126 may play roles in UC inflammatory activity by down-regulating the expression of IKBA, an important inhibitor of NF-κB signaling pathway.
Human corneal endothelial cells (HCEnCs) form a monolayer of hexagonal cells whose main function is to maintain corneal clarity by regulating corneal hydration. HCEnCs are derived from neural crest and are arrested in the post-mitotic state. Thus cell loss due to aging or corneal endothelial disorders leads to corneal edema and blindness–the leading indication for corneal transplantation. Here we show the existence of morphologically distinct subpopulations of HCEnCs that are interspersed among primary cells and exhibit enhanced self-renewal competence and lack of phenotypic signs of cellular senescence. Colonies of these uniform and hexagonal HCEnCs (HCEnC-21) were selectively isolated and demonstrated high proliferative potential that was dependent on endogenous upregulation of telomerase and cyclin D/CDK4. Further transduction of HCEnC-21 with telomerase yielded a highly proliferative corneal endothelial cell line (HCEnT-21T) that was devoid of oncogenic transformation and retained critical corneal endothelial cell characteristics and functionality. This study will significantly impact the fields of corneal cell biology and regenerative medicine.
Cell-derived microvesicles (MVs), recognized as important components of cell-cell communication, contain mRNAs, miRNAs, proteins and lipids and transfer their bioactive contents from parent cells to cells of other origins. We have studied the effect that MVs released from embryonic stem cells (ESMVs) have on retinal progenitor Müller cells. Cultured human Müller cells were exposed to mouse ESMVs every 48 hours for a total of 9 treatments. Morphological changes were observed by light microscopy in the treated cells, which grew as individual heterogeneous cells, compared to the uniform, spindle-like adherent cellular sheets of untreated cells. ESMVs transferred to Müller cells embryonic stem cell (ESC) mRNAs involved in the maintenance of pluripotency, including Oct4 and Sox2, and the miRNAs of the 290 cluster, important regulators of the ESC-specific cell cycle. Moreover, ESMV exposure induced up-regulation of the basal levels of endogenous human Oct4 mRNA in Müller cells. mRNA and miRNA microarrays of ESMV-treated vs. untreated Müller cells revealed the up-regulation of genes and miRNAs involved in the induction of pluripotency, cellular proliferation, early ocular genes and genes important for retinal protection and remodeling, as well as the down-regulation of inhibitory and scar-related genes and miRNAs involved in differentiation and cell cycle arrest. To further characterize the heterogeneous cell population of ESMV-treated Müller cells, their expression of retinal cell markers was compared to that in untreated control cells by immunocytochemistry. Markers for amacrine, ganglion and rod photoreceptors were present in treated but not in control Müller cells. Together, our findings indicate that ESMs induce de-differentiation and pluripotency in their target Müller cells, which may turn on an early retinogenic program of differentiation.
Slow, progressive rod degeneration followed by cone death leading to blindness is the pathological signature of all forms of human retinitis pigmentosa (RP). Therapeutic schemes based on intraocular delivery of neuroprotective agents prolong the lifetime of photoreceptors and have reached the stage of clinical trial. The success of these approaches depends upon optimization of chronic supply and appropriate combination of factors. Environmental enrichment (EE), a novel neuroprotective strategy based on enhanced motor, sensory and social stimulation, has already been shown to exert beneficial effects in animal models of various disorders of the CNS, including Alzheimer and Huntington disease. Here we report the results of prolonged exposure of rd10 mice, a mutant strain undergoing progressive photoreceptor degeneration mimicking human RP, to such an enriched environment from birth. By means of microscopy of retinal tissue, electrophysiological recordings, visual behaviour assessment and molecular analysis, we show that EE considerably preserves retinal morphology and physiology as well as visual perception over time in rd10 mutant mice. We find that protective effects of EE are accompanied by increased expression of retinal mRNAs for CNTF and mTOR, both factors known as instrumental to photoreceptor survival. Compared to other rescue approaches used in similar animal models, EE is highly effective, minimally invasive and results into a long-lasting retinal protection. These results open novel perspectives of research pointing to environmental strategies as useful tools to extend photoreceptor survival.
Two outstanding unknowns in the biology of photoreceptors are the molecular determinants of cell size, which is remarkably uniform among mammalian species, and the mechanisms of rod cell death associated with inherited neurodegenerative blinding diseases such as retinitis pigmentosa. We have addressed both questions by performing an in vivo titration with rhodopsin gene copies in genetically engineered mice that express only normal rhodopsin or an autosomal dominant allele, encoding rhodopsin with a disease-causing P23H substitution. The results reveal that the volume of the rod outer segment is proportional to rhodopsin gene expression; that P23H-rhodopsin, the most common rhodopsin gene disease allele, causes cell death via a dominant-negative mechanism; and that long term survival of rod cells carrying P23H-rhodopsin can be achieved by increasing the levels of wild type rhodopsin. These results point to promising directions in gene therapy for autosomal dominant neurodegenerative diseases caused by dominant-negative mutations.
Fuchs endothelial corneal dystrophy (FECD) is a common, familial disease of the corneal endothelium and is the leading indication for corneal transplantation. Variation in the transcription factor 4 (TCF4) gene has been identified as a major contributor to the disease. We tested for an association between an intronic TGC trinucleotide repeat in TCF4 and FECD by determining repeat length in 66 affected participants with severe FECD and 63 participants with normal corneas in a 3-stage discovery/replication/validation study. PCR primers flanking the TGC repeat were used to amplify leukocyte-derived genomic DNA. Repeat length was determined by direct sequencing, short tandem repeat (STR) assay and Southern blotting. Genomic Southern blots were used to evaluate samples for which only a single allele was identified by STR analysis. Compiling data for 3 arms of the study, a TGC repeat length >50 was present in 79% of FECD cases and in 3% of normal controls cases (p<0.001). Among cases, 52 of 66 (79%) subjects had >50 TGC repeats, 13 (20%) had <40 repeats and 1 (2%) had an intermediate repeat length. In comparison, only 2 of 63 (3%) unaffected control subjects had >50 repeats, 60 (95%) had <40 repeats and 1 (2%) had an intermediate repeat length. The repeat length was greater than 1000 in 4 FECD cases. The sensitivity and specificity of >50 TGC repeats identifying FECD in this patient cohort was 79% and 96%, respectively Expanded TGC repeat was more specific for FECD cases than the previously identified, highly associated, single nucleotide polymorphism, rs613872 (specificity = 79%). The TGC trinucleotide repeat expansion in TCF4 is strongly associated with FECD, and a repeat length >50 is highly specific for the disease This association suggests that trinucleotide expansion may play a pathogenic role in the majority of FECD cases and is a predictor of disease risk.
It has been noted that target sites located in the coding region or the 3′-untranslated region (3′-UTR) can be silenced to significantly different levels by the same siRNA, but little is known about at what specificity the silencing was achieved. In an exploration of positional effects on siRNA specificity by luciferase reporter system, we surprisingly discovered that siRNA had greatly elevated tolerance towards mismatches in target sites in the 3′-UTR of the mRNA compared with the same target sites cloned in the coding region. Assessment of changes in protein and mRNA levels suggested that the differential mismatch tolerance might have resulted from location-specific translational repression in the 3′-UTR. Ablation of argonaute proteins by AGO-specific siRNAs revealed that the AGO2 had major impact on siRNA silencing activity against sites in both coding region and 3′-UTR, while the silencing of nonnucleolytic AGO proteins (AGO1, AGO3 and AGO4) did not significantly affect silencing of sites in either region. This paper revealed the discovery that the specificity of an siRNA can be affected by the location of its target site.
Development of retinal detachment models in small animals can be difficult and expensive. Here we create and characterize a novel, cone-rich retinal detachment (RD) model in the chick.
Retinal detachments were created in chicks between postnatal days 7 and 21 by subretinal injections of either saline (SA) or hyaluronic acid (HA). Injections were performed through a dilated pupil with observation via surgical microscope, using the fellow eye as a control. Immunohistochemical analyses were performed at days 1, 3, 7, 10 and 14 after retinal detachment to evaluate the cellular responses of photoreceptors, Müller glia, microglia and nonastrocytic inner retinal glia (NIRG). Cell proliferation was detected with bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU)-incorporation and by the expression of proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA). Cell death was detected with terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase dUTP nick end labeling (TUNEL). As in mammalian models of RD, there is shortening of photoreceptor outer segments and mis-trafficking of photoreceptor opsins in areas of RD. Photoreceptor cell death was maximal 1 day after RD, but continued until 14 days after RD. Müller glia up-regulated glial fibriliary acidic protein (GFAP), proliferated, showed interkinetic nuclear migration, and migrated to the subretinal space in areas of detachment. Microglia became reactive; they up-regulated CD45, acquired amoeboid morphology, and migrated toward outer retina in areas of RD. Reactive NIRG cells accumulated in detached areas.
Subretinal injections of SA or HA in the chick eye successfully produced retinal detachments and cellular responses similar to those seen in standard mammalian models. Given the relatively large eye size, and considering the low cost, the chick model of RD offers advantages for high-throughput studies.
A-to-I RNA editing is a post-transcriptional modification of single nucleotides in RNA by adenosine deamination, which thereby diversifies the gene products encoded in the genome. Thousands of potential RNA editing sites have been identified by recent studies (e.g. see Li et al, Science 2009); however, only a handful of these sites have been independently confirmed. Here, we systematically and quantitatively examined 109 putative coding region A-to-I RNA editing sites in three sets of normal human brain samples by ultra-high-throughput sequencing (uHTS). Forty of 109 putative sites, including 25 previously confirmed sites, were validated as truly edited in our brain samples, suggesting an overestimation of A-to-I RNA editing in these putative sites by Li et al (2009). To evaluate RNA editing in human disease, we analyzed 29 of the confirmed sites in subjects with major depressive disorder and schizophrenia using uHTS. In striking contrast to many prior studies, we did not find significant alterations in the frequency of RNA editing at any of the editing sites in samples from these patients, including within the 5HT2C serotonin receptor (HTR2C). Our results indicate that uHTS is a fast, quantitative and high-throughput method to assess RNA editing in human physiology and disease and that many prior studies of RNA editing may overestimate both the extent and disease-related variability of RNA editing at the sites we examined in the human brain.
Mantle cell lymphoma is characterized by a genetic translocation results in aberrant overexpression of the CCND1 gene, which encodes cyclin D1. This protein functions as a regulator of the cell cycle progression, hence is considered to play an important role in the pathogenesis of the disease. In this study, we used RNA interference strategies to examine whether cyclin D1 might serve as a therapeutic target for mantle cell lymphoma. Knocking down cyclin D1 resulted in significant growth retardation, cell cycle arrest, and most importantly, induction of apoptosis. These results mark cyclin D1 as a target for mantle cell lymphoma and emphasize the therapeutic potential hidden in its silencing.
Saffron, an extract from Crocus sativus, has been largely used in traditional medicine for its antiapoptotic and anticarcinogenic properties. In this work, we investigate the effects of safranal, a component of saffron stigmas, in attenuating retinal degeneration in the P23H rat model of autosomal dominant retinitis pigmentosa. We demonstrate that administration of safranal to homozygous P23H line-3 rats preserves both photoreceptor morphology and number. Electroretinographic recordings showed higher a- and b-wave amplitudes under both photopic and scotopic conditions in safranal-treated versus non-treated animals. Furthermore, the capillary network in safranal-treated animals was preserved, unlike that found in untreated animals. Our findings indicate that dietary supplementation with safranal slows photoreceptor cell degeneration and ameliorates the loss of retinal function and vascular network disruption in P23H rats. This work also suggests that safranal could be potentially useful to retard retinal degeneration in patients with retinitis pigmentosa.
Unlike its constitutive isoforms, including neuronal and endothelial nitric oxide synthase, inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) along with a series of cytokines are generated in inflammatory pathologic conditions in retinal photoreceptors. In this study, we constructed transgenic mice overexpressing iNOS in the retina to evaluate the effect of sustained, intense iNOS generation in the photoreceptor damage.
For construction of opsin/iNOS transgene in the CMVSport 6 expression vector, the 4.4 kb Acc65I/Xhol mouse rod opsin promoter was ligated upstream to a 4.1 kb fragment encoding the complete mouse cDNA of iNOS. From the four founders identified, two heterozygote lines and one homozygote line were established. The presence of iNOS in the retina was confirmed and the pathologic role of iNOS was assessed by detecting nitrotyrosine products and apoptosis. Commercial TUNEL kit was used to detect DNA strand breaks, a later step in a sequence of morphologic changes of apoptosis process.
The insertion and translation of iNOS gene were demonstrated by an intense single 130 kDa band in Western blot and specific immunolocalization at the photoreceptors of the retina. Cellular toxicity in the retinas of transgenic animals was detected by a post-translational modification product, tyrosine-nitrated protein, the most significant one of which was nitrated cytochrome c. Following the accumulation of nitrated mitochondrial proteins and cytochrome c release, marked apoptosis was detected in the photoreceptor cell nuclei of the retina.
We have generated a pathologic phenotype with sustained iNOS overexpression and, therefore, high output of nitric oxide. Under basal conditions, such overexpression of iNOS causes marked mitochondrial cytochrome c nitration and release and subsequent photoreceptor apoptosis in the retina. Therefore, the modulation of pathways leading to iNOS generation or its effective neutralization can be of significant therapeutic benefit in the oxidative stress-mediated retinal degeneration, a leading cause of blindness.
Oxidative injury to retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) and retinal photoreceptors has been linked to a number of retinal diseases, including age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Reactive oxygen species (ROS)-mediated gene expression has been extensively studied at transcriptional levels. Also, the post-transcriptional control of gene expression at the level of translational regulation has been recently reported. However, the microRNA (miRNA/miR)-mediated post-transcriptional regulation in human RPE cells has not been thoroughly looked at. Increasing evidence points to a potential role of miRNAs in diverse physiological processes.
We demonstrated for the first time in a human retinal pigment epithelial cell line (ARPE-19) that the post-transcriptional control of gene expression via miRNA modulation regulates human catalase, an important and potent component of cell's antioxidant defensive network, which detoxifies hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) radicals. Exposure to several stress-inducing agents including H2O2 has been reported to alter miRNA expression profile. Here, we demonstrated that a sublethal dose of H2O2 (200 µM) up-regulated the expression of miR-30b, a member of the miR-30 family, which inhibited the expression of endogenous catalase both at the transcript and protein levels. However, antisense (antagomirs) of miR-30b was not only found to suppress the miR-30b mimics-mediated inhibitions, but also to dramatically increase the expression of catalase even under an oxidant environment.
We propose that a microRNA antisense approach could enhance cytoprotective mechanisms against oxidative stress by increasing the antioxidant defense system.
Aging of retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells of the eye is marked by accumulations of bisretinoid fluorophores; two of the compounds within this lipofuscin mixture are A2E and all-trans-retinal dimer. These pigments are implicated in pathological mechanisms involved in some vision-threatening disorders including age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Studies have shown that bisretinoids are photosensitive compounds that undergo photooxidation and photodegradation when irradiated with short wavelength visible light. Utilizing ultra performance liquid chromatography (UPLC) with electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (ESI-MS) we demonstrate that photodegradation of A2E and all-trans-retinal dimer generates the dicarbonyls glyoxal (GO) and methylglyoxal (MG), that are known to modify proteins by advanced glycation endproduct (AGE) formation. By extracellular trapping with aminoguanidine, we established that these oxo-aldehydes are released from irradiated A2E-containing RPE cells. Enzyme-linked immunosorbant assays (ELISA) revealed that the substrate underlying A2E-containing RPE was AGE-modified after irradiation. This AGE deposition was suppressed by prior treatment of the cells with aminoguanidine. AGE-modification causes structural and functional impairment of proteins. In chronic diseases such as diabetes and atherosclerosis, MG and GO modify proteins by non-enzymatic glycation and oxidation reactions. AGE-modified proteins are also components of drusen, the sub-RPE deposits that confer increased risk of AMD onset. These results indicate that photodegraded RPE bisretinoid is likely to be a previously unknown source of MG and GO in the eye.
Autosomal dominant retinitis pigmentosa (ADRP) is frequently caused by mutations within the gene for the opsin of rod photoreceptor cells. Studies on transgenic mice, carrying mutated rhodopsin (RHO) transgene on different genetic backgrounds suggested that that an increased amount of wild-type RHO in ADRP photoreceptors attenuated the impact of the mutant transgene. Therefore, we employed a gene therapy approach with a help of Adeno-associated virus (AAV) to treat mice expressing a P23H mutant human RHO transgene. Knowing that AAV5 primarily transduces photoreceptor cells, we designed “hardened” form of the rhodopsin gene (RHO301) that expressed normal rhodopsin and was specifically resistant to degradation by the previously tested siRNA301. AAV5 RHO301 was subretinaly injected into the right eyes of P23H RHO mice at post-natal day 15. Animals were analyzed monthly by electroretinography (ERG) for 6 months. Analysis of the full field scotopic electroretinogram (ERG) demonstrated that increased expression of opsin slowed the rate of retinal degeneration in P23H mice with increased amplitudes in both a-wave and b-wave amplitudes compared to control eyes. An increase in the ERG amplitudes was correlated with improvement of retinal structure. The thickness of the outer nuclear layer in AAV-RHO301 injected eyes was increased by 80% compared to control eyes. This finding indicates that wild -type RHO could rescue the retinal degeneration in transgenic mice carrying a dominant RHO mutation and that increased production of normal rhodopsin could suppress the effect of the mutant protein. These findings suggest that wild-type RHO can used as a therapeutic agent to retard retinal degeneration in ADRP caused by different mutations of RHO via increased production of normal rhodopsin protein.
Barth's syndrome (BTHS) is an X-linked mitochondrial disease that is due to a mutation in the Tafazzin (TAZ) gene. Based on sequence homology, TAZ has been characterized as an acyltransferase involved in the metabolism of cardiolipin (CL), a unique phospholipid almost exclusively located in the mitochondrial inner membrane. Yeast, Drosophila, and zebrafish models have been invaluable in elucidating the role of TAZ in BTHS, but until recently a mammalian model to study the disease has been lacking. Based on in vitro evidence of RNA-mediated TAZ depletion, an inducible short hairpin RNA (shRNA)-mediated TAZ knockdown (TAZKD) mouse model has been developed (TaconicArtemis GmbH, Cologne, Germany), and herein we describe the assessment of this mouse line as a model of BTHS. Upon induction of the TAZ-specific shRNA in vivo, transgenic mouse TAZ mRNA levels were reduced by >89% in cardiac and skeletal muscle. TAZ deficiency led to the absence of tetralineoyl-CL and accumulation of monolyso-CL in cardiac muscle. Furthermore, mitochondrial morphology from cardiac and skeletal muscle was altered. Skeletal muscle mitochondria demonstrated disrupted cristae, and cardiac mitochondria were significantly enlarged and displace neighboring myofibrils. Physiological measurements demonstrated a reduction in isometric contractile strength of the soleus and a reduction in cardiac left ventricular ejection fraction of TAZKD mice compared with control animals. Therefore, the inducible TAZ-deficient model exhibits some of the molecular and clinical characteristics of BTHS patients and may ultimately help to improve our understanding of BTHS-related cardioskeletal myopathy as well as serve as an important tool in developing therapeutic strategies for BTHS.
Barth's syndrome (BTHS) is an X-linked mitochondrial disease that has been associated with loss-of-function mutations in the Tafazzin (TAZ) gene. There is no mammalian animal model of BTHS. In this study, Soustek and colleagues describe an inducible short hairpin RNA (shRNA)-mediated TAZ knockdown (TAZKD) mouse model. They report that this model exhibits some of the molecular and clinical characteristics of patients with BTHS and may ultimately serve as an important tool in developing therapeutic strategies for BTHS.