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1.  Calpain and PARP Activation during Photoreceptor Cell Death in P23H and S334ter Rhodopsin Mutant Rats 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(7):e22181.
Retinitis pigmentosa (RP) is a heterogeneous group of inherited neurodegenerative diseases affecting photoreceptors and causing blindness. Many human cases are caused by mutations in the rhodopsin gene. An important question regarding RP pathology is whether different genetic defects trigger the same or different cell death mechanisms. To answer this question, we analysed photoreceptor degeneration in P23H and S334ter transgenic rats carrying rhodopsin mutations that affect protein folding and sorting respectively. We found strong activation of calpain and poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) in both mutants, concomitant with calpastatin down-regulation, increased oxidative DNA damage and accumulation of PAR polymers. These parameters were strictly correlated with the temporal progression of photoreceptor degeneration, mirroring earlier findings in the phosphodiesterase-6 mutant rd1 mouse, and suggesting execution of non-apoptotic cell death mechanisms. Interestingly, activation of caspases-3 and -9 and cytochrome c leakage—key events in apoptotic cell death—were observed only in the S334ter mutant, which also showed increased expression of PARP-1. The identification of the same metabolic markers triggered by different mutations in two different species suggests the existence of common cell death mechanisms, which is a major consideration for any mutation independent treatment.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0022181
PMCID: PMC3134478  PMID: 21765948
2.  PARP1 Gene Knock-Out Increases Resistance to Retinal Degeneration without Affecting Retinal Function 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(11):e15495.
Retinitis pigmentosa (RP) is a group of inherited neurodegenerative diseases affecting photoreceptors and causing blindness in humans. Previously, excessive activation of enzymes belonging to the poly-ADP-ribose polymerase (PARP) group was shown to be involved in photoreceptor degeneration in the human homologous rd1 mouse model for RP. Since there are at least 16 different PARP isoforms, we investigated the exact relevance of the predominant isoform - PARP1 - for photoreceptor cell death using PARP1 knock-out (KO) mice. In vivo and ex vivo morphological analysis using optic coherence tomography (OCT) and conventional histology revealed no major alterations of retinal phenotype when compared to wild-type (wt). Likewise, retinal function as assessed by electroretinography (ERG) was normal in PARP1 KO animals. We then used retinal explant cultures derived from wt, rd1, and PARP1 KO animals to test their susceptibility to chemically induced photoreceptor degeneration. Since photoreceptor degeneration in the rd1 retina is triggered by a loss-of-function in phosphodiesterase-6 (PDE6), we used selective PDE6 inhibition to emulate the rd1 situation on non-rd1 genotypes. While wt retina subjected to PDE6 inhibition showed massive photoreceptor degeneration comparable to rd1 retina, in the PARP1 KO situation, cell death was robustly reduced. Together, these findings demonstrate that PARP1 activity is in principle dispensable for normal retinal function, but is of major importance for photoreceptor degeneration under pathological conditions. Moreover, our results suggest that PARP dependent cell death or PARthanatos may play a major role in retinal degeneration and highlight the possibility to use specific PARP inhibitors for the treatment of RP.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0015495
PMCID: PMC2990765  PMID: 21124852

Results 1-2 (2)