Recent evidence suggests that transient hyperglycemia in extremely low birth weight infants is strongly associated with the occurrence of retinopathy of prematurity (ROP). We propose a new model of Neonatal Hyperglycemia-induced Retinopathy (NHIR) that mimics many aspects of retinopathy of prematurity. Hyperglycemia was induced in newborn rat pups by injection of streptozocine (STZ) at post natal day one (P1). At various time points, animals were assessed for vascular abnormalities, neuronal cell death and accumulation and activation of microglial cells. We here report that streptozotocin induced a rapid and sustained increase of glycemia from P2/3 to P6 without affecting rat pups gain weight or necessitating insulin treatment. Retinal vascular area was significantly reduced in P6 hyperglycemic animals compared to control animals. Hyperglycemia was associated with (i) CCL2 chemokine induction at P6, (ii) a significant recruitment of inflammatory macrophages and an increase in total number of Iba+ macrophages/microglia cells in the inner nuclear layer (INL), and (iii) excessive apoptosis in the INL. NHIR thereby reproduces several aspects of ischemic retinopathies, including ROP and diabetic retinopathies, and might be a useful model to decipher hyperglycemia-induced cellular and molecular mechanisms in the small rodent.
Previous studies showed that the endothelin B receptor (ETB) expression was upregulated and played a key role in neurodegeneration in rodent models of glaucoma. However, the mechanisms underlying upregulation of ETB receptor expression remain largely unknown. Using promoter-reporter assays, the 1258 bp upstream the human ETB promoter region was found to be essential for constitutive expression of ETB receptor gene in human non-pigmented ciliary epithelial cells (HNPE). The −300 to −1 bp and −1258 to −600 bp upstream promoter regions of the ETB receptor appeared to be the key binding regions for transcription factors. In addition, the crucial AP-1 binding site located at −615 to −624 bp upstream promoter was confirmed by luciferase assays and CHIP assays which were performed following overexpression of c-Jun in HNPE cells. Overexpression of either c-Jun or C/EBPβ enhanced the ETB receptor promoter activity, which was reflected in increased mRNA and protein levels of ETB receptor. Furthermore, knock-down of either c-Jun or C/EBPβ in HNPE cells was significantly correlated to decreased mRNA levels of both ETB and ETA receptor. These observations suggest that c-Jun and C/EBPβ are important for regulated expression of the ETB receptor in HNPE cells. In separate experiments, intraocular pressure (IOP) was elevated in one eye of Brown Norway rats while the corresponding contralateral eye served as control. Two weeks of IOP elevation produced increased expression of c-Jun and C/EBPβ in the retinal ganglion cell (RGC) layer from IOP-elevated eyes. The mRNA levels of c-Jun, ETA and ETB receptor were upregulated by 2.2-, 3.1- and 4.4-fold in RGC layers obtained by laser capture microdissection from retinas of eyes with elevated IOP, compared to those from contralateral eyes. Taken together, these data suggest that transcription factor AP-1 plays a key role in elevation of ETB receptor in a rodent model of ocular hypertension.
Vertebrate genomes undergo epigenetic reprogramming during development and disease. Emerging evidence suggests that DNA methylation plays a key role in cell fate determination in the retina. Despite extensive studies of the programmed cell death that occurs during retinal development and degeneration, little is known about how DNA methylation might regulate neuronal cell death in the retina.
The developing chicken retina and the rd1 and rhodopsin-GFP mouse models of retinal degeneration were used to investigate programmed cell death during retinal development and degeneration. Changes in DNA methylation were determined by immunohistochemistry using antibodies against 5-methylcytosine (5mC) and 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (5hmC).
Punctate patterns of hypermethylation paralleled patterns of caspase3-dependent apoptotic cell death previously reported to occur during development in the chicken retina. Degenerating rd1 mouse retinas, at time points corresponding to the peak of rod cell death, showed elevated signals for 5mC and 5hmC in photoreceptors throughout the retina, with the most intense staining observed in the peripheral retina. Hypermethylation of photoreceptors in rd1 mice was associated with TUNEL and PAR staining and appeared to be cCaspase3-independent. After peak rod degeneration, during the period of cone death, occasional hypermethylation was observed in the outer nuclear layer.
The finding that cell-specific increases of 5mC and 5hmC immunostaining are associated with the death of retinal neurons during both development and degeneration suggests that changes in DNA methylation may play a role in modulating gene expression during the process of retinal degeneration. During retinal development, hypermethylation of retinal neurons associates with classical caspase-dependent apoptosis as well as caspase-3 independent cell death, while hypermethylation in the rd1 mouse photoreceptors is primarily associated with caspase-3 independent programmed cell death. These findings suggest a previously unrecognized role for epigenetic mechanisms in the onset and/or progression of programed cell death in the retina.
Several genes implicated in high-density lipoprotein (HDL) metabolism have been reported to be associated with age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Furthermore, HDL transport the two carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin, which are highly suspected to play a key-role in the protection against AMD. The objective is to confirm the associations of HDL-related loci with AMD and to assess their associations with plasma lutein and zeaxanthin concentrations.
Alienor study is a prospective population-based study on nutrition and age-related eye diseases performed in 963 elderly residents of Bordeaux, France. AMD was graded according to the international classification, from non-mydriatic colour retinal photographs. Plasma lutein and zeaxanthin were determined by normal-phase high-performance liquid chromatography. The following polymorphisms were studied: rs493258 and rs10468017 (LIPC), rs3764261 (CETP), rs12678919 (LPL) and rs1883025 (ABCA1).
After multivariate adjustment, the TT genotype of the LIPC rs493258 variant was significantly associated with a reduced risk for early and late AMD (OR=0.64, 95%CI: 0.41-0.99; p=0.049 and OR=0.26, 95%CI: 0.08-0.85; p=0.03, respectively), and with higher plasma zeaxanthin concentrations (p=0.03), while plasma lipids were not significantly different according to this SNP. Besides, the LPL variant was associated with early AMD (OR=0.67, 95%CI: 0.45-1.00; p=0.05) and both with plasma lipids and plasma lutein (p=0.047). Associations of LIPC rs10468017, CETP and ABCA1 polymorphisms with AMD did not reach statistical significance.
These findings suggest that LIPC and LPL genes could both modify the risk for AMD and the metabolism of lutein and zeaxanthin.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small and endogenously expressed non-coding RNAs that negatively regulate the expression of protein-coding genes at the translational level. Emerging evidence suggests that miRNAs play critical roles in central nervous system under physiological and pathological conditions. However, their expression and functions in status epilepticus (SE) have not been well characterized thus far. Here, by using high-throughput sequencing, we characterized miRNA expression profile in rat hippocampus at 24 hours following SE induced by amygdala stimulation. After confirmation by qRT-PCR, six miRNAs were found to be differentially expressed in brain after SE. Subsequent Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes pathway analysis indicated that most of the predicted target genes for these six miRNAs were related to neuronal apoptosis. We then investigated the dynamic changes of these six miRNAs at different time-point (4 hours, 24 hours, 1 week and 3 weeks) after SE. Meanwhile, neuronal survival and apoptosis in the hippocampus after SE were evaluated by Nissl staining and terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated dUTP end-labeling assay. We found that the expression of miR-874-3p, miR-20a-5p, miR-345-3p, miR-365-5p, and miR-764-3p were significantly increased from 24 hours to 1 week, whereas miR-99b-3p level was markedly decreased from 24 hours to 3 weeks after SE. Further analysis revealed that the levels of miR-365-5p and miR-99b-3p were significantly correlated with neuronal apoptosis after SE. Taken together, our data suggest that miRNAs are important modulators of SE-induced neuronal apoptosis. These findings also open new avenues for future studies aimed at developing strategies against neuronal apoptosis after SE.
In human eyes, ocular enlargement/growth reflects active extracellular matrix remodeling of the outer scleral shell. Micro-RNAs are small non-coding RNAs that regulate gene expression by base pairing with target sequences. They serve as nodes of signaling networks. We hypothesized that the sclera, like most tissues, expresses micro-RNAs, some of which modulate genes regulating ocular growth. In this study, the scleral micro-RNA expression profile of rapidly growing human fetal eyes was compared with that of stable adult donor eyes using high-throughput microarray and quantitative PCR analyses.
Scleral samples from normal human fetal (24 wk) and normal adult donor eyes were obtained (n=4 to 6, each group), and RNA extracted. Genome-wide micro-RNA profiling was performed using the Agilent micro-RNA microarray platform. Micro-RNA target predictions were obtained using Microcosm, TargetScan and PicTar algorithms. TaqMan® micro-RNA assays targeting micro-RNAs showing either highest significance, detection, or fold differences, and collagen specificity, were applied to scleral samples from posterior and peripheral ocular regions (n=7, each group). Microarray data were analyzed using R, and quantitative PCR data with 2^-deltaCt methods.
Human sclera was found to express micro-RNAs, and comparison of microarray results for adult and fetal samples revealed many to be differentially expressed (p<0.01, min p= 6.5x1011). Specifically, fetal sclera showed increased expression of mir-214, let-7c, let-7e, mir-103, mir-107, and mir-98 (1.5 to 4 fold changes, p<0.01). However, no significant regionally specific differences .i.e., posterior vs. peripheral sclera, were observed for either adult or fetal samples.
For the first time, micro-RNA expression has been catalogued in human sclera. Some micro-RNAs show age-related differential regulation, higher in the sclera of rapidly growing fetal eyes, consistent with a role in ocular growth regulation. Thus micro-RNAs represent potential targets for ocular growth manipulation, related to myopia and/or other disorders such as scleral ectasia.
Retinitis Pigmentosa is a common form of hereditary retinal degeneration constituting the largest Mendelian genetic cause of blindness in the developed world. It has been widely suggested that oxidative stress possibly contributes to its pathogenesis. We measured the levels of total antioxidant capacity, free nitrotyrosine, thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (TBARS) formation, extracellular superoxide dismutase (SOD3) activity, protein, metabolites of the nitric oxide/cyclic GMP pathway, heme oxygenase-I and inducible nitric oxide synthase expression in aqueous humor or/and peripheral blood from fifty-six patients with retinitis pigmentosa and sixty subjects without systemic or ocular oxidative stress-related disease. Multivariate analysis of covariance revealed that retinitis pigmentosa alters ocular antioxidant defence machinery and the redox status in blood. Patients with retinitis pigmentosa present low total antioxidant capacity including reduced SOD3 activity and protein concentration in aqueous humor. Patients also show reduced SOD3 activity, increased TBARS formation and upregulation of the nitric oxide/cyclic GMP pathway in peripheral blood. Together these findings confirmed the hypothesis that patients with retinitis pigmentosa present reduced ocular antioxidant status. Moreover, these patients show changes in some oxidative-nitrosative markers in the peripheral blood. Further studies are needed to clarify the relationship between these peripheral markers and retinitis pigmentosa.
Oxidative stress is one of the major factors that trigger photoreceptor apoptosis. To investigate whether resveratrol, a potent antioxidant and small molecule activator of the FoxO pathway, would be neuroprotective against photoreceptor cell death in a rodent model of retinal detachment.
Retinal detachment was created in adult Brown Norway rats by subretinal injection of sodium hyaluronate. The animals were treated daily with vehicle or resveratrol (20mg/kg) intraperitoneal injection. Photoreceptor death was assessed by counting the number of apoptotic cells with TdT-dUTP terminal nick-end labeling (TUNEL) and measurement of the outer nuclear layer (ONL) thickness 3 days after RD. Changes in expression of FoxO1a, FoxO3a, and FoxO4 were analyzed by western blot. The activity of caspase 3, caspase 8, caspase 9, spectrin and their cleavage forms were studied.
Three days after retinal detachment, caspase 3, caspase 8 and caspase 9 were significantly activated in the detached retina. Spectrin cleavage products at 120 and 145 kDa were also detected. Both caspase and calpain activation are involved in apoptotic photoreceptor cell death in detached retinas. Treatment with resveratrol increases FoxO1a, FoxO3a, and FoxO4 protein expression in detached retinas only. Resveratrol treatment decreases activation of intrinsic and extrinsic caspase apoptotic pathways triggered by RD. The number of TUNEL-positive cells decreases from 1301±51 cells/mm2 in control groups to 430±35 cells/mm2 in treatment groups (p<0.05). Resveratrol treatment also demonstrates 59% less ONL thickness loss compared to controls.
Resveratrol treatment up-regulates the FoxO family and blocks Caspase3, 8, and 9 activation. Resveratrol has the potential to be used as a novel therapeutic agent for preventing vision loss in diseases characterized by photoreceptor detachment.
Retinal ischemia/reperfusion (I/R) injury results in the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS). The aim of this study was to investigate whether delivery of the manganese superoxide dismutase gene (SOD2) or the catalase gene (CAT) could rescue the retinal vascular damage induced by I/R in mice.
I/R injury to the retina was induced in mice by elevating intraocular pressure for 2 hours, and reperfusion was established immediately afterward. One eye of each mouse was pretreated with plasmids encoding manganese superoxide dismutase or catalase complexed with cationic liposomes and delivered by intravitreous injection 48 hours before initiation of the procedure. Superoxide ion, hydrogen peroxide, and 4-hydroxynonenal (4-HNE) protein modifications were measured by fluorescence staining, immunohistochemistry, and Western blot analysis 1 day after the I/R injury. At 7 days after injury, retinal vascular cell apoptosis and acellular capillaries were quantitated.
Superoxide ion, hydrogen peroxide, and 4-HNE protein modifications increased at 24 hours after I/R injury. Administration of plasmids encoding SOD2 or CAT significantly reduced levels of superoxide ion, hydrogen peroxide, and 4-HNE. Retinal vascular cell apoptosis and acellular capillary numbers increased greatly by 7 days after the injury. Delivery of SOD2 or CAT inhibited the I/R-induced apoptosis of retinal vascular cell and retinal capillary degeneration.
Delivery of antioxidant genes inhibited I/R-induced retinal capillary degeneration, apoptosis of vascular cells, and ROS production, suggesting that antioxidant gene therapy might be a treatment for I/R-related disease.
Among the identified risk factors of age-related macular degeneration, sunlight is known to induce cumulative damage to the retina. A photosensitive derivative of the visual pigment, N-retinylidene-N-retinylethanolamine (A2E), may be involved in this phototoxicity. The high energy visible light between 380 nm and 500 nm (blue light) is incriminated. Our aim was to define the most toxic wavelengths in the blue-green range on an in vitro model of the disease. Primary cultures of porcine retinal pigment epithelium cells were incubated for 6 hours with different A2E concentrations and exposed for 18 hours to 10 nm illumination bands centered from 380 to 520 nm in 10 nm increments. Light irradiances were normalized with respect to the natural sunlight reaching the retina. Six hours after light exposure, cell viability, necrosis and apoptosis were assessed using the Apotox-Glo Triplex™ assay. Retinal pigment epithelium cells incubated with A2E displayed fluorescent bodies within the cytoplasm. Their absorption and emission spectra were similar to those of A2E. Exposure to 10 nm illumination bands induced a loss in cell viability with a dose dependence upon A2E concentrations. Irrespective of A2E concentration, the loss of cell viability was maximal for wavelengths from 415 to 455 nm. Cell viability decrease was correlated to an increase in cell apoptosis indicated by caspase-3/7 activities in the same spectral range. No light-elicited necrosis was measured as compared to control cells maintained in darkness. Our results defined the precise spectrum of light retinal toxicity in physiological irradiance conditions on an in vitro model of age-related macular degeneration. Surprisingly, a narrow bandwidth in blue light generated the greatest phototoxic risk to retinal pigment epithelium cells. This phototoxic spectrum may be advantageously valued in designing selective photoprotection ophthalmic filters, without disrupting essential visual and non-visual functions of the eye.
In eukaryotes the genetic material is enclosed by a continuous membrane system, the nuclear envelope (NE). Along the NE specific proteins assemble to form meshworks and mutations in these proteins have been described in a group of human diseases called laminopathies. Laminopathies include lipodystrophies, muscle and cardiac diseases as well as metabolic or progeroid syndromes. Most laminopathies are caused by mutations in the LMNAgene encoding lamins A/C. Together with Nesprins (Nuclear Envelope Spectrin Repeat Proteins) they are core components of the LINC complex (Linker of Nucleoskeleton and Cytoskeleton). The LINC complex connects the nucleoskeleton and the cytoskeleton and plays a role in the transfer of mechanically induced signals along the NE into the nucleus, and its components have been attributed functions in maintaining nuclear and cellular organization as well as signal transduction.
Here we narrowed down the interaction sites between lamin A and Nesprin-2 to aa 403–425 in lamin A and aa 6146–6347 in Nesprin-2. Laminopathic mutations in and around the involved region of lamin A (R401C, G411D, G413C, V415I, R419C, L421P, R427G, Q432X) modulate the interaction with Nesprin-2 and this may contribute to the disease phenotype. The most notable mutation is the lamin A mutation Q432X that alters LINC complex protein assemblies and causes chromosomal and transcription factor rearrangements.
Mutations in Nesprin-2 and lamin A are characterised by complex genotype phenotype relations. Our data show that each mutation in LMNAanalysed here has a distinct impact on the interaction among both proteins that substantially explains how distinct mutations in widely expressed genes lead to the formation of phenotypically different diseases.
To study bilateral nerve changes in a newly developed novel mouse model for neurotrophic keratopathy by approaching the trigeminal nerve from the lateral fornix. Surgical axotomy of the ciliary nerve of the trigeminal nerve was performed in adult BALB/c mice at the posterior sclera. Axotomized, contralateral, and sham-treated corneas were excised on post-operative days 1, 3, 5, 7 and 14 and immunofluorescence histochemistry was performed with anti-β-tubulin antibody to evaluate corneal nerve density. Blink reflex was evaluated using a nylon thread. The survival rate was 100% with minimal bleeding during axotomy and a surgical time of 8±0.5 minutes. The blink reflex was diminished at day 1 after axotomy, but remained intact in the contralateral eyes in all mice. The central and peripheral subbasal nerves were not detectable in the axotomized cornea at day 1 (p<0.001), compared to normal eyes (101.3±14.8 and 69.7±12.0 mm/mm2 centrally and peripherally). Interestingly, the subbasal nerve density in the contralateral non-surgical eyes also decreased significantly to 62.4±2.8 mm/mm2 in the center from day 1 (p<0.001), but did not change in the periphery (77.3±11.7 mm/mm2, P = 0.819). Our novel trigeminal axotomy mouse model is highly effective, less invasive, rapid, and has a high survival rate, demonstrating immediate loss of subbasal nerves in axotomized eyes and decreased subbasal nerves in contralateral eyes after unilateral axotomy. This model will allow investigating the effects of corneal nerve damage and serves as a new model for neurotrophic keratopathy.
Oxidative stress in the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) is hypothesized to be a major contributor to the development of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Mitochondrial manganese superoxide dismutase (MnSOD) is a critical antioxidant protein that scavenges the highly reactive superoxide radical. We speculated that specific reduction of MnSOD in the RPE will increase the level of reactive oxygen species in the retina/RPE/choroid complex leading to pathogenesis similar to geographic atrophy. To test this hypothesis, an Sod2-specific hammerhead ribozyme (Rz), delivered by AAV2/1 and driven by the human VMD2 promoter was injected subretinally into C57BL/6J mice. Dark-adapted full field electroretinogram (ERG) detected a decrease in the response to light. We investigated the age-dependent phenotypic and morphological changes of the outer retina digital fundus imaging and SD-OCT measurement of ONL thickness. Fundus microscopy revealed pigmentary abnormalities in the retina and these corresponded to sub-retinal and sub-RPE deposits seen in SD-OCT B-scans. Light and electron microscopy documented the localization of apical deposits and thickening of the RPE. In RPE flat-mounts we observed abnormally displaced nuclei and regions of apparent fibrosis in the central retina of the oldest mice. This region was surrounded by enlarged and irregular RPE cells that have been observed in eyes donated by AMD patients and in other mouse models of AMD.
retinal pigment epithelium; oxidative stress; superoxide dismutase; mitochondria; mouse model; age related macular degeneration
Botryosphaeria dothidea is a widespread and economically important pathogen on various fruit trees, and it often causes die-back and canker on limbs and fruit rot. In characterizing intraspecies genetic variation within this fungus, group I introns, rich in rDNA of fungi, may provide a productive region for exploration. In this research, we analysed complete small subunit (SSU) ribosomal DNA (rDNA) sequences of 37 B. dothidea strains, and found four insertions, designated Bdo.S943, Bdo.S1199-A, Bdo.S1199-B and Bdo.S1506, at three positions. Sequence analysis and structure prediction revealed that both Bdo.S943 and Bdo.S1506 belonged to subgroup IC1 of group I introns, whereas Bdo.S1199-A and Bdo.S1199-B corresponded to group IE introns. Moreover, Bdo.S1199-A was found to host an open reading frame (ORF) for encoding the homing endonuclease (HE), whereas Bdo.S1199-B, an evolutionary descendant of Bdo.S1199-A, included a degenerate HE. The above four introns were novel, and were the first group I introns observed and characterized in this species. Differential distribution of these introns revealed that all strains could be separated into four genotypes. Genotype III (no intron) and genotype IV (Bdo.S1199-B) were each found in only one strain, whereas genotype I (Bdo.S1199-A) and genotype II (Bdo.S943 and Bdo.S1506) occurred in 95% of the strains. There is a correlation between B. dothidea genotypes and hosts or geographic locations. Thus, these newly discovered group I introns can help to advance understanding of genetic differentiation within B. dothidea.
The rapid and massive degeneration of photoreceptors in retinal degeneration might have a dramatic negative effect on retinal circuits downstream of photoreceptors. However, the impact of photoreceptor loss on the morphology and function of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) is not fully understood, precluding the rational design of therapeutic interventions that can reverse the progressive loss of retinal function. The present study investigated the morphological changes in several identified RGCs in the retinal degeneration rd1 mouse model of retinitis pigmentosa (RP), using a combination of viral transfection, microinjection of neurobiotin and confocal microscopy. Individual RGCs were visualized with a high degree of detail using an adeno-associated virus (AAV) vector carrying the gene for enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP), allowed for large-scale surveys of the morphology of RGCs over a wide age range. Interestingly, we found that the RGCs of nine different types we encountered were especially resistant to photoreceptor degeneration, and retained their fine dendritic geometry well beyond the complete death of photoreceptors. In addition, the RGC-specific markers revealed a remarkable degree of stability in both morphology and numbers of two identified types of RGCs for up to 18 months of age. Collectively, our data suggest that ganglion cells, the only output cells of the retina, are well preserved morphologically, indicating the ganglion cell population might be an attractive target for treating vision loss.
Dry eye disease can cause ocular surface inflammation that disrupts the corneal epithelial barrier. While dry eye patients are known to have an increased risk of corneal infection, it is not known whether there is a direct causal relationship between these two conditions. Here, we tested the hypothesis that experimentally-induced dry eye (EDE) increases susceptibility to corneal infection using a mouse model. In doing so, we also examined the role of surfactant protein D (SP-D), which we have previously shown is involved in corneal defense against infection. Scopolamine injections and fan-driven air were used to cause EDE in C57BL/6 or Black Swiss mice (wild-type and SP-D gene-knockout). Controls received PBS injections and were housed normally. After 5 or 10 days, otherwise uninjured corneas were inoculated with 109 cfu of Pseudomonas aeruginosa strain PAO1. Anesthesia was maintained for 3 h post-inoculation. Viable bacteria were quantified in ocular surface washes and corneal homogenates 6 h post-inoculation. SP-D was measured by Western immunoblot, and corneal pathology assessed from 6 h to 4 days. EDE mice showed reduced tear volumes after 5 and 10 days (each by ∼75%, p<0.001) and showed fluorescein staining (i.e. epithelial disruption). Surprisingly, there was no significant difference in corneal pathology between EDE mice and controls (∼10–14% incidence). Before bacterial inoculation, EDE mice showed elevated SP-D in ocular washes. After inoculation, fewer bacteria were recovered from ocular washes of EDE mice (<2% of controls, p = 0.0004). Furthermore, SP-D knockout mice showed a significant increase in P. aeruginosa corneal colonization under EDE conditions. Taken together, these data suggest that SP-D contributes to corneal defense against P. aeruginosa colonization and infection in EDE despite the loss of barrier function to fluorescein.
Connective tissue growth factor (CTGF) is a fibrogenic cytokine that is up-regulated by TGF-β and mediates most key fibrotic actions of TGF-β, including stimulation of synthesis of extracellular matrix and differentiation of fibroblasts into myofibroblasts. This study addresses the role of proteolytic processing of CTGF in human corneal fibroblasts (HCF) stimulated with TGF-β, normal ocular tissues and wounded corneas.
Proteolytic processing of CTGF in HCF cultures, normal animal eyes, and excimer laser wounded rat corneas were examined by Western blot. The identity of a 21-kDa band was determined by tandem mass spectrometry, and possible alternative splice variants of CTGF were assessed by 5′ Rapid Amplification of cDNA Ends (RACE).
HCF stimulated by TGF-β contained full length 38-kDa CTGF and fragments of 25, 21, 18, and 13 kDa, while conditioned medium contained full length 38- and a 21-kDa fragment of CTGF that contained the middle “hinge” region of CTGF. Fragmentation of recombinant CTGF incubated in HCF extracts was blocked by the aspartate protease inhibitor, pepstatin. Normal mouse, rat, and rabbit whole eyes and rabbit ocular tissues contained abundant amounts of C-terminal 25- and 21-kDa fragments and trace amounts of 38-kDa CTGF, although no alternative transcripts were detected. All forms of CTGF (38, 25, and 21 kDa) were detected during healing of excimer ablated rat corneas, peaking on day 11.
Proteolytic processing of 38-kDa CTGF occurs during corneal wound healing, which may have important implications in regulation of corneal scar formation.
Proteolytic processing of connective tissue growth factor (CTGF, 38 kDa) alters its biological effects. C-terminal fragments of CTGF (21 kDa and 25 kDa) are abundant in normal ocular tissues, and peak 11 days after excimer laser ablation in rat corneas. Processing of CTGF during corneal wound healing may impact scar formation.
Excessive scarring (fibrosis) is a major cause of pathologies in multiple tissues, including lung, liver, kidney, heart, cornea, and skin. The transforming growth factor- β (TGF- β) system has been shown to play a key role in regulating the formation of scar tissue throughout the body. Furthermore, connective tissue growth factor (CTGF) has been shown to mediate most of the fibrotic actions of TGF- β, including stimulation of synthesis of extracellular matrix and differentiation of fibroblasts into myofibroblasts. Currently, no approved drugs selectively and specifically regulate scar formation. Thus, there is a need for a drug that selectively targets the TGF- β cascade at the molecular level and has minimal off-target side effects. This chapter focuses on the design of hammerhead ribozymes, measurement of kinetic activity, and assessment of knockdown mRNAs of TGF- β and CTGF in cell cultures.
Ribozymes; TGF- β; CTGF; Scar formation; Transduction; Oligonucleotides
The ANP32 family of proteins have been implicated in neuronal function through biochemical and cellular biology studies in neurons, as well as by recent behavioural studies of a gene-trapped loss-of-function mutation of Anp32e in mice, particularly with respect to fine motor function. A second targeted allele of the Anp32e, however, did not appear to demonstrate neurological phenotypes.
Using a stringently controlled cohort of ten-generation backcrossed, co-caged, sex-matched, littermate pairs, we assayed for potential motor defects in the targeted ANP32E-deficient mice. We found no phenotypic difference in any assays.
Since it is unlikely that the gene-trap is a more complete loss-of-function, our results suggest that ANP32E has no appreciable effect on motor functions and that genetic background differences most likely account for the gene-trap phenomena.
The activation of caspase-3 is an important hallmark in Parkinson’s disease. It could induce neuron death by apoptosis and microglia activation by inflammation. As a result, inhibition the activation of caspase-3 would exert synergistic dual effect in brain in order to prevent the progress of Parkinson’s disease. Silencing caspase-3 genes by RNA interference could inhibit the activation of caspase-3. We developed a brain-targeted gene delivery system based on non-viral gene vector, dendrigraft poly-L-lysines. A rabies virus glycoprotein peptide with 29 amino-acid linked to dendrigraft poly-L-lysines could render gene vectors the ability to get across the blood brain barrier by specific receptor mediated transcytosis. The resultant brain-targeted vector was complexed with caspase-3 short hairpin RNA coding plasmid DNA, yielding nanoparticles. In vivo imaging analysis indicated the targeted nanoparticles could accumulate in brain more efficiently than non-targeted ones. A multiple dosing regimen by weekly intravenous administration of the nanoparticles could reduce activated casapse-3 levels, significantly improve locomotor activity and rescue dopaminergic neuronal loss and in Parkinson’s disease rats’ brain. These results indicated the rabies virus glycoprotein peptide modified brain-targeted nanoparticles were promising gene delivery system for RNA interference to achieve anti-apoptotic and anti-inflammation synergistic therapeutic effects by down-regulation the expression and activation of caspase-3.
Optic neuropathy including glaucoma is one of the leading causes of irreversible vision loss, and there are currently no effective therapies. The hallmark of pathophysiology of optic neuropathy is oxidative stress and apoptotic death of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs), a population of neurons in the central nervous system with their soma in the inner retina and axons in the optic nerve. We here tested that an anti-apoptotic protein stanniocalcin-1 (STC-1) can prevent loss of RGCs in the rat retina with optic nerve transection (ONT) and in cultures of RGC-5 cells with CoCl2 injury. We found that intravitreal injection of STC-1 increased the number of RGCs in the retina at days 7 and 14 after ONT, and decreased apoptosis and oxidative damage. In cultures, treatment with STC-1 dose-dependently increased cell viability, and decreased apoptosis and levels of reactive oxygen species in RGC-5 cells that were exposed to CoCl2. The expression of HIF-1α that was up-regulated by injury was significantly suppressed in the retina and in RGC-5 cells by STC-1 treatment. The results suggested that intravitreal injection of STC-1 might be a useful therapy for optic nerve diseases in which RGCs undergo apoptosis through oxidative stress.
Choroideremia (CHM) is an X- linked retinal degeneration that is symptomatic in the 1st or 2nd decade of life causing nyctalopia and loss of peripheral vision. The disease progresses through mid-life, when most patients become blind. CHM is a favorable target for gene augmentation therapy, as the disease is due to loss of function of a protein necessary for retinal cell health, Rab Escort Protein 1 (REP1).The CHM cDNA can be packaged in recombinant adeno-associated virus (rAAV), which has an established track record in human gene therapy studies, and, in addition, there are sensitive and quantitative assays to document REP1 activity. An animal model that accurately reflects the human condition is not available. In this study, we tested the ability to restore REP1 function in personalized in vitro models of CHM: lymphoblasts and induced pluripotent stems cells (iPSCs) from human patients. The initial step of evaluating safety of the treatment was carried out by evaluating for acute retinal histopathologic effects in normal-sighted mice and no obvious toxicity was identified. Delivery of the CHM cDNA to affected cells restores REP1 enzymatic activity and also restores proper protein trafficking. The gene transfer is efficient and the preliminary safety data are encouraging. These studies pave the way for a human clinical trial of gene therapy for CHM.
Pharmacologic inhibition of aldose reductase (AR) previously has been studied with respect to diabetic retinopathy with mixed results. Since drugs can have off-target effects, we studied the effects of AR deletion on the development and molecular abnormalities that contribute to diabetic retinopathy. Since recent data suggests an important role for leukocytes in the development of the retinopathy, we determined also if AR in leukocytes contributes to leukocyte-mediated death of retinal endothelial cells in diabetes.
Wild-type (WT; C57BL/6J) and AR deficient (AR−/−) mice were made diabetic with streptozotocin. Mice were sacrificed at 2 and 10 months of diabetes to evaluate retinal vascular histopathology, to quantify retinal superoxide production and biochemical and physiological abnormalities in the retina, and to assess the number of retinal endothelial cells killed by blood leukocytes in a co-culture system.
Diabetes in WT mice developed the expected degeneration of retinal capillaries, and increased generation of superoxide by the retina. Leukocytes from diabetic WT mice also killed more retinal endothelial cells than did leukocytes from nondiabetic animals (p<0.0001). Deletion of AR largely (P<0.05) inhibited the diabetes-induced degeneration of retinal capillaries, as well as the increase in superoxide production by retina. AR-deficiency significantly inhibited the diabetes-induced increase in expression of inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) in retina, but had no significant effect on expression of intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1), phosphorylated p38 MAPK, or killing of retinal endothelial cells by leukocytes.
AR contributes to the degeneration of retinal capillaries in diabetic mice. Deletion of the enzyme inhibits the diabetes-induced increase in expression of iNOS and of superoxide production, but does not correct a variety of other pro-inflammatory abnormalities associated with the development of diabetic retinopathy.
Widespread gene delivery to the retina is an important challenge for the treatment of retinal diseases, such as retinal dystrophies. We and others have recently shown that the intravenous injection of a self-complementary (sc) AAV9 vector can direct efficient cell transduction in the central nervous system, in both neonatal and adult animals. We show here that the intravenous injection of scAAV9 encoding green fluorescent protein (GFP) resulted in gene transfer to all layers of the retina in adult mice, despite the presence of a mature blood-eye barrier. Cell morphology studies and double-labeling with retinal cell-specific markers showed that GFP was expressed in retinal pigment epithelium cells, photoreceptors, bipolar cells, Müller cells and retinal ganglion cells. The cells on the inner side of the retina, including retinal ganglion cells in particular, were transduced with the highest efficiency. Quantification of the cell population co-expressing GFP and Brn-3a showed that 45% of the retinal ganglion cells were efficiently transduced after intravenous scAAV9-GFP injection in adult mice. This study provides the first demonstration that a single intravenous scAAV9 injection can deliver transgenes to the retinas of both eyes in adult mice, suggesting that this vector serotype is able to cross mature blood-eye barriers. This intravascular gene transfer approach, by eliminating the potential invasiveness of ocular surgery, could constitute an alternative when fragility of the retina precludes subretinal or intravitreal injections of viral vectors, opening up new possibilities for gene therapy for retinal diseases.
Many mutations in the human rhodopsin gene (RHO) cause autosomal dominant retinitis pigmentosa (ADRP). Our previous studies with a P23H (proline-23 substituted by histidine) RHO transgenic mouse model of ADRP demonstrated significant improvement of retinal function and preservation of retinal structure after transfer of wild-type rhodopsin by AAV. In this study we demonstrate long-term rescue of retinal structure and function by a single virus expressing both RHO replacement cDNA and small interfering RNA (siRNA) to digest mouse Rho and human P23H RHO mRNA. This combination should prevent overexpression of rhodopsin, which can be deleterious to photoreceptors. On the basis of the electroretinogram (ERG) response, degeneration of retinal function was arrested at 2 months postinjection, and the response was maintained at this level until termination at 9 months. Preservation of the ERG response in P23H RHO mice reflected survival of photoreceptors: both the outer nuclear layer (ONL) and outer segments of photoreceptor cells maintained the same thickness as in nontransgenic mice, whereas the control injected P23H eyes exhibited severe thinning of the ONL and outer segments. These findings suggest that delivery of both a modified cDNA and an siRNA by a single adeno-associated viral vector provided long-term rescue of ADRP in this model. Because the siRNA targets human as well as mouse rhodopsin mRNAs, the combination vector may be useful for the treatment of human disease.
Mao and colleagues show that a single subretinal injection of AAV serotype 5 (AAV5) vector encoding both a small interfering RNA targeted against a mutant form of rhodopsin (P23H RHO) and a replacement cDNA for the nonmutant form of RHO preserves retinal structure and leads to full recovery of retinal function in a mouse model of autosomal dominant retinitis pigmentosa.