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1.  A New CRB1 Rat Mutation Links Müller Glial Cells to Retinal Telangiectasia 
The Journal of Neuroscience  2015;35(15):6093-6106.
We have identified and characterized a spontaneous Brown Norway from Janvier rat strain (BN-J) presenting a progressive retinal degeneration associated with early retinal telangiectasia, neuronal alterations, and loss of retinal Müller glial cells resembling human macular telangiectasia type 2 (MacTel 2), which is a retinal disease of unknown cause. Genetic analyses showed that the BN-J phenotype results from an autosomal recessive indel novel mutation in the Crb1 gene, causing dislocalization of the protein from the retinal Müller glia (RMG)/photoreceptor cell junction. The transcriptomic analyses of primary RMG cultures allowed identification of the dysregulated pathways in BN-J rats compared with wild-type BN rats. Among those pathways, TGF-β and Kit Receptor Signaling, MAPK Cascade, Growth Factors and Inflammatory Pathways, G-Protein Signaling Pathways, Regulation of Actin Cytoskeleton, and Cardiovascular Signaling were found. Potential molecular targets linking RMG/photoreceptor interaction with the development of retinal telangiectasia are identified. This model can help us to better understand the physiopathologic mechanisms of MacTel 2 and other retinal diseases associated with telangiectasia.
PMCID: PMC4397606  PMID: 25878282
adherens junction; disease model; genetics; microcirculation; retinal blood vessels; retinal degeneration
2.  Specific tools for targeting and expression in Müller glial cells 
Despite their physiological roles, Müller glial cells are involved directly or indirectly in retinal disease pathogenesis and are an interesting target for therapeutic approaches for retinal diseases and regeneration such as CRB1 inherited retinal dystrophies. In this study, we characterized the efficiency of adeno-associated virus (AAV) capsid variants and different promoters to drive protein expression in Müller glial cells. ShH10Y and AAV9 were the most powerful capsids to infect mouse Müller glial cells. Retinaldehyde-binding protein 1 (RLBP1) promoter was the most powerful promoter to transduce Müller glial cells. ShH10Y capsids and RLBP1 promoter targeted human Müller glial cells in vitro. We also developed and tested smaller promoters to express the large CRB1 gene via AAV vectors. Minimal cytomegalovirus (CMV) promoter allowed expression of full-length CRB1 protein in Müller glial cells. In summary, ShH10Y and AAV9 capsids, and RLBP1 or minimal CMV promoters are of interest as specific tools to target and express in mouse or human Müller glial cells.
PMCID: PMC4362388  PMID: 26015954
3.  Microarray and Morphological Analysis of Early Postnatal CRB2 Mutant Retinas on a Pure C57BL/6J Genetic Background 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e82532.
In humans, the Crumbs homologue-1 (CRB1) gene is mutated in progressive types of autosomal recessive retinitis pigmentosa and Leber congenital amaurosis. The severity of the phenotype due to human CRB1 or mouse Crb1 mutations is dependent on the genetic background. Mice on C57BL/6J background with Crb1 mutations show late onset of retinal spotting phenotype or no phenotype. Recently, we showed that conditional deletion of mouse Crb2 in the retina results in early retinal disorganization leading to severe and progressive retinal degeneration with concomitant visual loss that mimics retinitis pigmentosa due to mutations in the CRB1 gene. Recent studies in the fruit fly and zebrafish suggest roles of the Crumbs (CRB) complex members in the regulation of cellular signalling pathways including the Notch1, mechanistic target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) and the Hippo pathway. Here, we demonstrate that mice backcrossed to C57BL/6J background with loss of CRB2 in the retina show a progressive disorganization and degeneration phenotype during late retinal development. We used microarray gene profiling to study the transcriptome of retinas lacking CRB2 during late retinal development. Unexpectedly, the retinas of newborn mice lacking CRB2 showed no changes in the transcriptome during retinal development. These findings suggest that loss of CRB2 in the developing retina results in retinal disorganization and subsequent degeneration without major changes in the transcriptome of the retina. These mice might be an interesting model to study the onset of retinal degeneration upon loss of CRB proteins.
PMCID: PMC3855766  PMID: 24324803
4.  Targeted Ablation of Crb1 and Crb2 in Retinal Progenitor Cells Mimics Leber Congenital Amaurosis 
PLoS Genetics  2013;9(12):e1003976.
Development in the central nervous system is highly dependent on the regulation of the switch from progenitor cell proliferation to differentiation, but the molecular and cellular events controlling this process remain poorly understood. Here, we report that ablation of Crb1 and Crb2 genes results in severe impairment of retinal function, abnormal lamination and thickening of the retina mimicking human Leber congenital amaurosis due to loss of CRB1 function. We show that the levels of CRB1 and CRB2 proteins are crucial for mouse retinal development, as they restrain the proliferation of retinal progenitor cells. The lack of these apical proteins results in altered cell cycle progression and increased number of mitotic cells leading to an increased number of late-born cell types such as rod photoreceptors, bipolar and Müller glia cells in postmitotic retinas. Loss of CRB1 and CRB2 in the retina results in dysregulation of target genes for the Notch1 and YAP/Hippo signaling pathways and increased levels of P120-catenin. Loss of CRB1 and CRB2 result in altered progenitor cell cycle distribution with a decrease in number of late progenitors in G1 and an increase in S and G2/M phase. These findings suggest that CRB1 and CRB2 suppress late progenitor pool expansion by regulating multiple proliferative signaling pathways.
Author Summary
Mutations in the human CRB1 gene lead to one of the most severe forms of retinal dystrophies, called Leber congenital amaurosis. Here, we report that ablation of CRB1 and the second family member CRB2 are crucial for proper retinal development. These mice display severe impairment of retinal function, abnormal lamination and thickening of the retina mimicking human Leber congenital amaurosis due to loss of CRB1 function. The thickening of the retina is due to increased cell proliferation during late retinal development leading to an increased number of late-born retinal cells. We describe in these CRB1 Leber congenital amaurosis mouse models the molecular and cellular events involving CRB proteins during the development of the retina.
PMCID: PMC3854796  PMID: 24339791
5.  The apical complex couples cell fate and cell survival to cerebral cortical development 
Neuron  2010;66(1):69-84.
Cortical development depends upon tightly controlled cell fate and cell survival decisions that generate a functional neuronal population, but the coordination of these two processes is poorly understood. Here we show that conditional removal of a key apical complex protein, Pals1, causes premature withdrawal from the cell cycle, inducing excessive generation of early-born postmitotic neurons followed by surprisingly massive and rapid cell death, leading to the abrogation of virtually the entire cortical structure. Pals1 loss shows exquisite dosage sensitivity, so that heterozygote mutants show an intermediate phenotype on cell fate and cell death. Loss of Pals1 blocks essential cell survival signals, including the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway, while mTORC1 activation partially rescues Pals1 deficiency. These data highlight unexpected roles of the apical complex protein Pals1 in cell survival through interactions with mTOR signaling.
PMCID: PMC2872122  PMID: 20399730
apical complex; Pals1; mTOR; neural cell fate; cell polarity; cell death
6.  GFAP-Driven GFP Expression in Activated Mouse Müller Glial Cells Aligning Retinal Blood Vessels Following Intravitreal Injection of AAV2/6 Vectors 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(8):e12387.
Müller cell gliosis occurs in various retinal pathologies regardless of the underlying cellular defect. Because activated Müller glial cells span the entire retina and align areas of injury, they are ideal targets for therapeutic strategies, including gene therapy.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We used adeno-associated viral AAV2/6 vectors to transduce mouse retinas. The transduction pattern of AAV2/6 was investigated by studying expression of the green fluorescent protein (GFP) transgene using scanning-laser ophthalmoscopy and immuno-histochemistry. AAV2/6 vectors transduced mouse Müller glial cells aligning the retinal blood vessels. However, the transduction capacity was hindered by the inner limiting membrane (ILM) and besides Müller glial cells, several other inner retinal cell types were transduced. To obtain Müller glial cell-specific transgene expression, the cytomegalovirus (CMV) promoter was replaced by the glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) promoter. Specificity and activation of the GFAP promoter was tested in a mouse model for retinal gliosis. Mice deficient for Crumbs homologue 1 (CRB1) develop gliosis after light exposure. Light exposure of Crb1−/− retinas transduced with AAV2/6-GFAP-GFP induced GFP expression restricted to activated Müller glial cells aligning retinal blood vessels.
Our experiments indicate that AAV2 vectors carrying the GFAP promoter are a promising tool for specific expression of transgenes in activated glial cells.
PMCID: PMC2927518  PMID: 20808778
7.  Noninvasive, In Vivo Assessment of Mouse Retinal Structure Using Optical Coherence Tomography 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(10):e7507.
Optical coherence tomography (OCT) is a novel method of retinal in vivo imaging. In this study, we assessed the potential of OCT to yield histology-analogue sections in mouse models of retinal degeneration.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We achieved to adapt a commercial 3rd generation OCT system to obtain and quantify high-resolution morphological sections of the mouse retina which so far required in vitro histology. OCT and histology were compared in models with developmental defects, light damage, and inherited retinal degenerations. In conditional knockout mice deficient in retinal retinoblastoma protein Rb, the gradient of Cre expression from center to periphery, leading to a gradual reduction of retinal thickness, was clearly visible and well topographically quantifiable. In Nrl knockout mice, the layer involvement in the formation of rosette-like structures was similarly clear as in histology. OCT examination of focal light damage, well demarcated by the autofluorescence pattern, revealed a practically complete loss of photoreceptors with preservation of inner retinal layers, but also more subtle changes like edema formation. In Crb1 knockout mice (a model for Leber's congenital amaurosis), retinal vessels slipping through the outer nuclear layer towards the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) due to the lack of adhesion in the subapical region of the photoreceptor inner segments could be well identified.
We found that with the OCT we were able to detect and analyze a wide range of mouse retinal pathology, and the results compared well to histological sections. In addition, the technique allows to follow individual animals over time, thereby reducing the numbers of study animals needed, and to assess dynamic processes like edema formation. The results clearly indicate that OCT has the potential to revolutionize the future design of respective short- and long-term studies, as well as the preclinical assessment of therapeutic strategies.
PMCID: PMC2759518  PMID: 19838301
8.  Opposite Effects of PSD-95 and MPP3 PDZ Proteins on Serotonin 5-Hydroxytryptamine2C Receptor Desensitization and Membrane Stability 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2006;17(11):4619-4631.
PSD-95/Disc large/Zonula occludens 1 (PDZ) domain-containing proteins (PDZ proteins) play an important role in the targeting and the trafficking of transmembrane proteins. Our previous studies identified a set of PDZ proteins that interact with the C terminus of the serotonin 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT)2C receptor. Here, we show that the prototypic scaffolding protein postsynaptic density-95 (PSD-95) and another membrane-associated guanylate kinase, MAGUK p55 subfamily member 3 (MPP3), oppositely regulate desensitization of the receptor response in both heterologous cells and mice cortical neurons in primary culture. PSD-95 increased desensitization of the 5-HT2C receptor-mediated Ca2+ response, whereas MPP3 prevented desensitization of the Ca2+ response. The effects of the PDZ proteins on the desensitization of the Ca2+ response were correlated with a differential regulation of cell surface expression of the receptor. Additional experiments were performed to assess how PDZ proteins globally modulate desensitization of the 5-HT2C receptor response in neurons, by using a peptidyl mimetic of the 5-HT2C receptor C terminus fused to the human immunodeficiency virus type-1 Tat protein transduction domain, which disrupts interaction between the 5-HT2C receptor and PDZ proteins. Transduction of this peptide inhibitor into cultured cortical neurons increased the desensitization of the 5-HT2C receptor-mediated Ca2+ response. This indicates that, overall, interaction of 5-HT2C receptors with PDZ proteins inhibits receptor desensitization in cortical neurons.
PMCID: PMC1635381  PMID: 16914526
9.  Multidrug resistance protein 1 protects the choroid plexus epithelium and contributes to the blood-cerebrospinal fluid barrier 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  2000;105(3):279-285.
Multidrug resistance protein 1 (MRP1) is a transporter protein that helps to protect normal cells and tumor cells against the influx of certain xenobiotics. We previously showed that Mrp1 protects against cytotoxic drugs at the testis-blood barrier, the oral epithelium, and the kidney urinary collecting duct tubules. Here, we generated Mrp1/Mdr1a/Mdr1b triple-knockout (TKO) mice, and used them together with Mdr1a/Mdr1b double-knockout (DKO) mice to study the contribution of Mrp1 to the tissue distribution and pharmacokinetics of etoposide. We observed increased toxicity in the TKO mice, which accumulated etoposide in brown adipose tissue, colon, salivary gland, heart, and the female urogenital system. Immunohistochemical staining revealed the presence of Mrp1 in the oviduct, uterus, salivary gland, and choroid plexus (CP) epithelium. To explore the transport function of Mrp1 in the CP epithelium, we used TKO and DKO mice cannulated for cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). We show here that the lack of Mrp1 protein causes etoposide levels to increase about 10-fold in the CSF after intravenous administration of the drug. Our results indicate that Mrp1 helps to limit tissue distribution of certain drugs and contributes to the blood-CSF drug-permeability barrier.
PMCID: PMC377447  PMID: 10675353
10.  Multidrug Resistance Protein 1 Protects the Oropharyngeal Mucosal Layer and the Testicular Tubules against Drug-induced Damage  
The multidrug resistance protein 1 (MRP1) gene encodes a transporter protein that helps to protect cells against xenobiotics. Elevated levels of MRP1 in tumor cells can result in active extrusion of a wide range of (anticancer) drugs with different cellular targets, a phenomenon called multidrug resistance (MDR). To explore the protective function of the mouse mrp1 protein during drug treatment, we investigated the toxicity caused by the anticancer drug etoposide-phosphate (ETOPOPHOS) in mice lacking the mrp1 gene (mrp1−/− mice). We show here that the lack of mrp1 protein results in increased etoposide-induced damage to the mucosa of the oropharyngeal cavity and to the seminiferous tubules of the testis. The high concentrations of mrp1 that we find in the basal layers of the oropharyngeal mucosa and in the basal membrane of the Sertoli cells in the testis apparently protect wild-type mice against this tissue damage. We also find drug-induced polyuria in mrp1−/− mice, which correlates with the presence of mrp1 protein in the urinary collecting tubules, the major site of kidney water reabsorption. Our results indicate that specific inhibitors of MRP1 used to reverse MDR, in combination with carcinostatic drugs transported by MRP1, might lead to drug-induced mucositis, (temporary) infertility, and diabetes insipidus.
PMCID: PMC2213389  PMID: 9730882
etoposide; multidrug resistance protein 1; mucositis; polyuria; blood–testis barrier

Results 1-10 (10)