In this review we evaluate evidence for three different hypotheses that explain how the corneal epithelium is maintained. The limbal epithelial stem cell (LESC) hypothesis is most widely accepted. This proposes that stem cells in the basal layer of the limbal epithelium, at the periphery of the cornea, maintain themselves and also produce transient (or transit) amplifying cells (TACs). TACs then move centripetally to the centre of the cornea in the basal layer of the corneal epithelium and also replenish cells in the overlying suprabasal layers. The LESCs maintain the corneal epithelium during normal homeostasis and become more active to repair significant wounds. Second, the corneal epithelial stem cell (CESC) hypothesis postulates that, during normal homeostasis, stem cells distributed throughout the basal corneal epithelium, maintain the tissue. According to this hypothesis, LESCs are present in the limbus but are only active during wound healing. We also consider a third possibility, that the corneal epithelium is maintained during normal homeostasis by proliferation of basal corneal epithelial cells without any input from stem cells. After reviewing the published evidence, we conclude that the LESC and CESC hypotheses are consistent with more of the evidence than the third hypothesis, so we do not consider this further. The LESC and CESC hypotheses each have difficulty accounting for one main type of evidence so we evaluate the two key lines of evidence that discriminate between them. Finally, we discuss how lineage-tracing experiments have begun to resolve the debate in favour of the LESC hypothesis. Nevertheless, it also seems likely that some basal corneal epithelial cells can act as long-term progenitors if limbal stem cell function is compromised. Thus, this aspect of the CESC hypothesis may have a lasting impact on our understanding of corneal epithelial maintenance, even if it is eventually shown that stem cells are restricted to the limbus as proposed by the LESC hypothesis.
Eye; Cornea; Corneal epithelium; Limbal epithelium; Stem cell; Lineage tracing
The limbal epithelial stem cell (LESC) hypothesis proposes that LESCs in the corneal limbus maintain the corneal epithelium both during normal homeostasis and wound repair. The alternative corneal epithelial stem cell (CESC) hypothesis proposes that LESCs are only involved in wound repair and CESCs in the corneal epithelium itself maintain the corneal epithelium during normal homeostasis. We used tamoxifen-inducible, CreER-loxP lineage tracing to distinguish between these hypotheses. Clones of labelled cells were induced in adult CAGG-CreER;R26R-LacZ reporter mice and their distributions analysed after different chase periods. Short-lived clones, derived from labelled transient amplifying cells, were shed during the chase period and long-lived clones, derived from stem cells, expanded. At 6 weeks, labelled clones appeared at the periphery, extended centripetally as radial stripes and a few reached the centre by 14 weeks. Stripe numbers depended on the age of tamoxifen treatment. Stripes varied in length, some were discontinuous, few reached the centre and almost half had one end at the limbus. Similar stripes extended across the cornea in CAGG-CreER;R26R-mT/mG reporter mice. The distributions of labelled clones are inconsistent with the CESC hypothesis and support the LESC hypothesis if LESCs cycle between phases of activity and quiescence, each lasting several weeks.
•We used lineage tracing to evaluate alternative corneal epithelial stem cell models.•Clones emerged from the periphery and extended centripetally as radial stripes.•This implies that active stem cells are at the periphery, not throughout the cornea.•Labelling patterns suggested stem cells cycle through quiescent periods.•More labelled clones were induced by treating younger mice.
Cornea; Limbal epithelial stem cells; Limbus; Lineage tracing; Stem cell quiescence; Stem cells
The Lim-kinase (LIMK) proteins are important for the regulation of the actin cytoskeleton, in particular the control of actin nucleation and depolymerisation via regulation of cofilin, and hence may control a large number of processes during development, including cell tensegrity, migration, cell cycling, and axon guidance. LIMK1/LIMK2 knockouts disrupt spinal cord morphogenesis and synapse formation but other tissues and developmental processes that require LIMK are yet to be fully determined. To identify tissues and cell-types that may require LIMK, we characterised the pattern of LIMK1 protein during mouse embryogenesis. We showed that LIMK1 displays an expression pattern that is temporally dynamic and tissue-specific. In several tissues LIMK1 is detected in cell-types that also express Wilms’ tumour protein 1 and that undergo transitions between epithelial and mesenchymal states, including the pleura, epicardium, kidney nephrons, and gonads. LIMK1 was also found in a subset of cells in the dorsal retina, and in mesenchymal cells surrounding the peripheral nerves. This detailed study of the spatial and temporal expression of LIMK1 shows that LIMK1 expression is more dynamic than previously reported, in particular at sites of tissue–tissue interactions guiding multiple developmental processes.
Limk; Kidney; Heart; Epithelia-to-mesenchyme transition; Mesenchyme-to-epithelia transition; Eye; Testes
Eye phenotypes were investigated in Le-CreTg/−; Pax6fl/+ mice, which were expected to show tissue-specific reduction of Pax6 in surface ectoderm derivatives. To provide a better comparison with our previous studies of Pax6+/− eye phenotypes, hemizygous Le-CreTg/− and heterozygous Pax6fl/+mice were crossed onto the CBA/Ca genetic background. After the Le-Cre transgene had been backcrossed to CBA/Ca for seven generations, significant eye abnormalities occurred in some hemizygous Le-CreTg/−; Pax6+/+ controls (without a floxed Pax6fl allele) as well as experimental Le-CreTg/−; Pax6fl/+ mice. However, no abnormalities were seen in Le-Cre−/−; Pax6fl/+ or Le-Cre−/−; Pax6+/+ controls (without the Le-Cre transgene). The severity and frequency of the eye abnormalities in Le-CreTg/−; Pax6+/+ control mice diminished after backcrossing Le-CreTg/− mice to the original FVB/N strain for two generations, showing that the effect was reversible. This genetic background effect suggests that the eye abnormalities are a consequence of an interaction between the Le-Cre transgene and alleles of unknown modifier genes present in certain genetic backgrounds. The abnormalities were also ameliorated by introducing additional Pax6 gene copies on a CBA/Ca background, suggesting involvement of Pax6 depletion in Le-CreTg/−; Pax6+/+ mice rather than direct action of Cre recombinase on cryptic pseudo-loxP sites. One possibility is that expression of Cre recombinase from the Pax6-Le regulatory sequences in the Le-Cre transgene depletes cofactors required for endogenous Pax6 gene expression. Our observation that eye abnormalities can occur in hemizygous Le-CreTg/−; Pax6+/+ mice, in the absence of a floxed allele, demonstrates the importance of including all the relevant genetic controls in Cre-loxP experiments.
Corneal nerves play essential roles in maintaining the ocular surface through provision of neurotrophic support, but genetic control of corneal innervation is poorly understood. The possibility of a neurotrophic failure in ocular surface disease associated with heterozygosity at the Pax6 locus (aniridia-related keratopathy [ARK]) was investigated.
Patterns of corneal innervation were studied during development and aging in mice with different Pax6 dosages and in chimeras. Immunohistochemistry and ELISA-based assays were used to determine the molecular basis of defects seen in Pax6 mutants, and wound healing assays were performed.
In adults, the Pax6+/− epithelium was less densely innervated than the wild-type epithelium, and radial projection of epithelial nerves was disrupted. Neurotrophic support of the corneal epithelium appeared normal. Directed nerve projection correlated with patterns of epithelial cell migration in adult wild-types, but innervation defects observed in Pax6+/− mice were not fully corrected in wound healing or chimeric models where directed epithelial migration was restored.
Pax6 dosage nonautonomously controls robust directed radial projection of corneal neurons, and the guidance cues for growth cone guidance are not solely dependent on directed epithelial migration. There is little evidence that ARK represents neurotrophic keratitis.
The requirement for correct dosage of the transcription factor Pax6 during corneal growth and development was investigated using the Pax6-overexpressing (PAX77) transgenic mouse. Transgenics had a microcornea phenotype due to failure of postnatal growth, associated with reduction in the number of cells layers in the corneal epithelium. Cell cycle progression was monitored using bromodeoxyuridine, p63, cyclin E, and phosphohistone-3 labeling: proliferation rates were higher in PAX77+ than wild-type, without a concomitant increase in apoptosis. Hence, failure of proliferation did not underlie microcornea. PAX77+ corneal epithelia had reduced levels of cytokeratin-12, and exhibited severe wound healing delay that, in contrast to Pax6+/- mice, could not be modulated by exogenous growth factors. PAX77+ lenses showed partial failure of lens fiber differentiation. The data demonstrate that anterior eye development is very sensitive to Pax6 dosage. Although there are similarities between the eye phenotype of Pax6 heterozygotes and overexpressing mice, there are also striking differences.
cornea; Pax6; gene dosage; anterior segment; wound healing
Altered dosage of the transcription factor PAX6 causes multiple human eye pathophysiologies. PAX6+/− heterozygotes suffer from aniridia and aniridia-related keratopathy (ARK), a corneal deterioration that probably involves a limbal epithelial stem cell (LESC) deficiency. Heterozygous Pax6+/Sey-Neu (Pax6+/−) mice recapitulate the human disease and are a good model of ARK. Corneal pathologies also occur in other mouse Pax6 mutants and in PAX77Tg/− transgenics, which over-express Pax6 and model human PAX6 duplication.
We used electron microscopy to investigate ocular defects in Pax6+/− heterozygotes (low Pax6 levels) and PAX77Tg/− transgenics (high Pax6 levels). As well as the well-documented epithelial defects, aberrant Pax6 dosage had profound effects on the corneal stroma and endothelium in both genotypes, including cellular vacuolation, similar to that reported for human macular corneal dystrophy. We used mosaic expression of an X-linked LacZ transgene in X-inactivation mosaic female (XLacZTg/−) mice to investigate corneal epithelial maintenance by LESC clones in Pax6+/− and PAX77Tg/− mosaic mice. PAX77Tg/− mosaics, over-expressing Pax6, produced normal corneal epithelial radial striped patterns (despite other corneal defects), suggesting that centripetal cell movement was unaffected. Moderately disrupted patterns in Pax6+/− mosaics were corrected by introducing the PAX77 transgene (in Pax6+/−, PAX77Tg/− mosaics). Pax6Leca4/+, XLacZTg/− mosaic mice (heterozygous for the Pax6Leca4 missense mutation) showed more severely disrupted mosaic patterns. Corrected corneal epithelial stripe numbers (an indirect estimate of active LESC clone numbers) declined with age (between 15 and 30 weeks) in wild-type XLacZTg/− mosaics. In contrast, corrected stripe numbers were already low at 15 weeks in Pax6+/− and PAX77Tg/− mosaic corneas, suggesting Pax6 under- and over-expression both affect LESC clones.
Pax6+/− and PAX77Tg/− genotypes have only relatively minor effects on LESC clone numbers but cause more severe corneal endothelial and stromal defects. This should prompt further investigations of the pathophysiology underlying human aniridia and ARK.
Congenital aniridia due to heterozygosity for Pax6 is associated with ocular surface disease, including keratopathy. This study investigated how defects in glycoconjugate component of the cell surface of Pax6+/− could cause the abnormal cellular migration phenotypes associated with the disease.
Immunohistochemistry, lectin-based histochemistry, conventional staining techniques, and proteomic assays were performed on eyes and cultured corneal epithelial cells from wild-type and Pax6+/− littermates. Wild-type cells were manipulated in culture to replicate the glycoconjugate abnormalities found in Pax6 heterozygotes and determine the consequences for wound healing.
Multiple glycoconjugate defects were found in Pax6 mutant cells. Lectin cytochemistry of corneal epithelial cells suggested a partial failure of glycoprotein trafficking. Blocking cell surface carbohydrate moieties in wild-type corneal cells caused wound-healing delays similar to those seen in untreated Pax6+/− cells.
Alterations to the cell surface glycoconjugate signature of Pax6+/− corneal epithelia restrict the ability of cells to initiate migration in response to wounding. This underlies the observed wound-healing delay in cultured Pax6+/− epithelia.
Maintenance of the corneal epithelium is essential for vision and is a dynamic process incorporating constant cell production, movement and loss. Although cell based therapies involving the transplantation of putative stem cells are well advanced for the treatment of human corneal defects, the scientific understanding of these interventions is poor. No definitive marker that discriminates stem cells that maintain the corneal epithelium from the surrounding tissue has been discovered and the identity of these elusive cells is, therefore, hotly debated. The key elements of corneal epithelial maintenance have long been recognised but it is still not known how this dynamic balance is coordinated during normal homeostasis to ensure the corneal epithelium is maintained at a uniform thickness. Most indirect experimental evidence supports the limbal epithelial stem cell (LESC) hypothesis, which proposes that the adult corneal epithelium is maintained by stem cells located in the limbus at the corneal periphery. However, this has been challenged recently by the corneal epithelial stem cell (CESC) hypothesis, which proposes that during normal homeostasis the mouse corneal epithelium is maintained by stem cells located throughout the basal corneal epithelium with LESCs only contributing during wound healing. In this chapter we review experimental studies, mostly based on animal work, that provide insights into how stem cells maintain the normal corneal epithelium and consider the merits of the alternative LESC and CESC hypotheses. Finally, we highlight some recent research on other stem cell systems and consider how this could influence future research directions for identifying the stem cells that maintain the corneal epithelium.
Idiopathic congenital talipes equinovarus (CTEV) is the commonest form of clubfoot. Its exact cause is unknown, although it is related to limb development. The aim of this study was to quantify the anatomy of the muscle, subcutaneous fat, tibia, fibula and arteries in the lower legs of teenagers and young adults with CTEV using 3D magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and thus to investigate the anatomical differences between CTEV participants and controls.
The lower legs of six CTEV (2 bilateral, 4 unilateral) and five control young adults (age 12–28) were imaged using a 3T MRI Philips scanner. 5 of the CTEV participants had undergone soft-tissue and capsular release surgery. 3D T1-weighted and 3D magnetic resonance angiography (MRA) images were acquired. Segmentation software was used for volumetric, anatomical and image analysis. Kolmogorov-Smirnov tests were performed. The volumes of the lower affected leg, muscle, tibia and fibula in unilateral CTEV participants were consistently smaller compared to their contralateral unaffected leg, this was most pronounced in muscle. The proportion of muscle in affected CTEV legs was significantly reduced compared with control and unaffected CTEV legs, whilst proportion of muscular fat increased. No spatial abnormalities in the location or branching of arteries were detected, but hypoplastic anomalies were observed.
Combining 3D MRI and MRA is effective for quantitatively characterizing CTEV anatomy. Reduction in leg muscle volume appears to be a sensitive marker. Since 5/6 CTEV cases had soft-tissue surgery, further work is required to confirm that the treatment did not affect the MRI features observed. We propose that the proportion of muscle and intra-muscular fat within the lower leg could provide a valuable addition to current clinical CTEV classification. These measures could be useful for clinical care and guiding treatment pathways, as well as treatment research and clinical audit.
To investigate the roles of intracellular signaling elicited by Hedgehog (Hh) ligands in corneal maintenance and wound healing.
The expression of Hedgehog pathway components in the cornea was assayed by immunohistochemistry, western blot and reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), in wild-type mice and mice that were heterozygous null for the gene encoding the transcription factor, paired box gene 6 (Pax6). Corneal epithelial wound healing and cell migration assays were performed after pharmacological upregulation and downregulation of the hedgehog pathway. Reporter mice, mosaic for expression of the gene encoding β-galactosidase (LacZ), were crossed to Pax6+/- mice, mice heterozygous for the gene encoding GLI-Kruppel family member GLI3, and Pax6+/- Gli3+/- double heterozygotes, to assay patterns of cell migration and corneal epithelial organization in vivo.
Corneal epithelial wound healing rates increased in response to application of Sonic hedgehog (Shh), but only in mice with wild-type Pax6 dosage. Downregulation of Hedgehog signalling inhibited corneal epithelial cell proliferation. Pax6+/- corneal epithelia showed increased proliferation in response to exogenous Shh, but not increased migration. Desert hedgehog (Dhh) was shown to be the major endogenous ligand, with Shh detectable only by RT-PCR and only after epithelial wounding. The activity of phosphatidylinositol-3-OH kinase-γ (PI3Kγ) was not required for the increased migration response in response to Shh. Nuclear expression of the activator form of the transcription factor Gli3 (which mediates Hh signalling) was reduced in Pax6+/- corneal epithelia. Pax6+/- Gli3+/- double heterozygotes showed highly disrupted patterns of clonal arrangement of cells in the corneal epithelium.
The data show key roles for endogenous Dhh signalling in maintenance and regeneration of the corneal epithelium, demonstrate an interaction between Pax6 and Hh signalling in the corneal epithelium, and show that failure of Hh signalling pathways is a feature of Pax6+/- corneal disease that cannot be remedied pharmacologically by addition of the ligands.
Animals adapted to dark ecotopes may experience selective pressure for retinal reduction. No previous studies have explicitly addressed the molecular basis of retinal development in any fossorial mammal. We studied retinal development and function in the Iberian mole Talpa occidentalis, which was presumed to be blind because of its permanently closed eyes. Prenatal retina development was relatively normal, with specification of all cell types and evidence of dorsoventral regionalization. Severe developmental defects occurred after birth, subsequent to lens abnormalities. ‘Blind’ Iberian moles had rods, cones and rod nuclear ultrastructure typical of diurnal mammals. DiI staining revealed only contralateral projections through the optic chiasm. Y-maze experiments demonstrated that moles retain a photoavoidance response. Over-representation of melanopsin-positive retinal ganglion cells that mediate photoperiodicity was observed. Hence, molecular pathways of eye development in Iberian moles retain the adaptive function of rod/cone primary vision and photoperiodicity, with no evidence that moles are likely to completely lose their eyes on an evolutionary time scale.
Iberian mole; fossorial; evolution; retina development; melanopsin; gliosis
To analyze the effects of Pax6 overexpression and its interaction with genetic background on eye development.
Histologic features of eyes from hemizygous PAX77+/− transgenic (high Pax6 gene dose) and wild-type mice were compared on different genetic backgrounds. Experimental PAX77+/−↔wild-type and control wild-type↔wild-type chimeras were analyzed to investigate the causes of abnormal eye development in PAX77+/− mice.
PAX77+/− mice showed an overlapping but distinct spectrum of eye abnormalities to Pax6+/− heterozygotes (low Pax6 dose). Some previously reported PAX77+/− eye abnormalities did not occur on all three genetic backgrounds examined. Several types of eye abnormalities occurred in the experimental PAX77+/−↔wild-type chimeras, and they occurred more frequently in chimeras with higher contributions of PAX77+/− cells. Groups of RPE cells intruded into the optic nerve sheath, indicating that the boundary between the retina and optic nerve may be displaced. Both PAX77+/− and wild-type cells were involved in this ingression and in retinal folds, suggesting that neither effect was cell-autonomous. Cell-autonomous effects included failure of PAX77+/− and wild-type cells to mix normally and overrepresentation of PAX77+/− in the lens epithelium and RPE.
The extent of PAX77+/− eye abnormalities depended on PAX77+/− genotype, genetic background, and stochastic variation. Chimera analysis identified two types of cell-autonomous effects of the PAX77+/− genotype. Abnormal cell mixing between PAX77+/− and wild-type cells suggests altered expression of cell surface adhesion molecules. Some phenotypic differences between PAX77+/−↔wild-type and Pax6+/−↔wild-type chimeras may reflect differences in the levels of PAX77+/− and Pax6+/− contributions to chimeric lenses.
Corneal avascularity—the absence of blood vessels in the cornea—is required for optical clarity and optimal vision, and has led to the cornea being widely used for validating pro- and anti-angiogenic therapeutic strategies for many disorders1-4. But the molecular underpinnings of the avascular phenotype have until now remained obscure5-10 and are all the more remarkable given the presence in the cornea of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)-A, a potent stimulator of angiogenesis, and the proximity of the cornea to vascularized tissues. Here we show that the cornea expresses soluble VEGF receptor-1 (sVEGFR-1; also known as sflt-1) and that suppression of this endogenous VEGF-A trap11 by neutralizing antibodies, RNA interference or Cre-lox-mediated gene disruption abolishes corneal avascularity in mice. The spontaneously vascularized corneas of corn1 and Pax6+/− mice12,13 and Pax6+/− patients with aniridia14 are deficient in sflt-1, and recombinant sflt-1 administration restores corneal avascularity in corn1 and Pax6+/− mice. Manatees, the only known creatures uniformly to have vascularized corneas15, do not express sflt-1, whereas the avascular corneas of dugongs, also members of the order Sirenia, elephants, the closest extant terrestrial phylogenetic relatives of manatees, and other marine mammals (dolphins and whales) contain sflt-1, indicating that it has a crucial, evolutionarily conserved role. The recognition that sflt-1 is essential for preserving the avascular ambit of the cornea can rationally guide its use as a platform for angiogenic modulators, supports its use in treating neovascular diseases, and might provide insight into the immunological privilege of the cornea.
Fossorial mammals face natural selection pressures that differ from those acting on surface dwelling animals, and these may lead to reduced visual system development. We have studied eye development in a species of true mole, the Iberian mole Talpa occidentalis, and present the molecular basis of abnormal lens development. This is the first embryological developmental study of the eyes of any fossorial mammal at the molecular level.
Lens fibre differentiation is not completed in the Iberian mole. Although eye development starts normally (similar to other model species), defects are seen after closure of the lens vesicle. PAX6 is not down-regulated in developing lens fibre nuclei, as it is in other species, and there is ectopic expression of FOXE3, a putative downstream effector of PAX6, in some, but not all lens fibres. FOXE3-positive lens fibres continue to proliferate within the posterior compartment of the embryonic lens, but unlike in the mouse, no proliferation was detected anywhere in the postnatal mole lens. The undifferentiated status of the anterior epithelial cells was compromised, and most of them undergo apoptosis. Furthermore, β-crystallin and PROX1 expression patterns are abnormal and our data suggest that genes encoding β-crystallins are not directly regulated by PAX6, c-MAF and PROX1 in the Iberian mole, as they are in other model vertebrates.
In other model vertebrates, genetic pathways controlling lens development robustly compartmentalise the lens into a simple, undifferentiated, proliferative anterior epithelium, and quiescent, anuclear, terminally differentiated posterior lens fibres. These pathways are not as robust in the mole, and lead to loss of the anterior epithelial phenotype and only partial differentiation of the lens fibres, which continue to express 'epithelial' genes. Paradigms of genetic regulatory networks developed in other vertebrates appear not to hold true for the Iberian mole.
The apparent rediscovery of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker Campephilus principalis in Arkansas, USA, previously feared extinct, was supported by video evidence of a single bird in flight (Fitzpatrick et al, Science 2005, 308:1460–1462). Plumage patterns and wingbeat frequency of the putative Ivory-billed Woodpecker were said to be incompatible with the only possible confusion species native to the area, the Pileated Woodpecker Dryocopus pileatus.
New video analysis of Pileated Woodpeckers in escape flights comparable to that of the putative Ivory-billed Woodpecker filmed in Arkansas shows that Pileated Woodpeckers can display a wingbeat frequency equivalent to that of the Arkansas bird during escape flight. The critical frames from the Arkansas video that were used to identify the bird as an Ivory-billed Woodpecker are shown to be equally, or more, compatible with the Pileated Woodpecker.
The identification of the bird filmed in Arkansas in April 2004 as an Ivory-billed Woodpecker is best regarded as unsafe. The similarities between the Arkansas bird and known Pileated Woodpeckers suggest that it was most likely a Pileated Woodpecker.
Knowledge of the consequences of heterozygous mutations of developmentally important genes is important for understanding human genetic disorders. The Gli3 gene encodes a zinc finger transcription factor and homozygous loss-of-function mutations of Gli3 are lethal. Humans heterozygous for mutations in this gene suffer Greig cephalopolysyndactyly or Pallister-Hall syndromes, in which limb defects are prominent, and mice heterozygous for similar mutations have extra digits. Here we examined whether eye development, which is abnormal in mice lacking functional Gli3, is defective in Gli3+/- mice.
We showed that Gli3 is expressed in the developing eye but that Gli3+/- mice have only very subtle eye defects. We then generated mice compound heterozygous for mutations in both Gli3 and Pax6, which encodes another developmentally important transcription factor known to be crucial for eye development. Pax6+/-; Gli3+/- eyes were compared to the eyes of wild-type, Pax6+/- or Gli3+/- siblings. They exhibited a range of abnormalities of the retina, iris, lens and cornea that was more extensive than in single Gli3+/- or Pax6+/- mutants or than would be predicted by addition of their phenotypes.
These findings indicate that heterozygous mutations of Gli3 can impact on eye development. The importance of a normal Gli3 gene dosage becomes greater in the absence of a normal Pax6 gene dosage, suggesting that the two genes co-operate during eye morphogenesis.
Congenital aniridia caused by heterozygousity at the PAX6 locus is associated with ocular surface disease including keratopathy. It is not clear whether the keratopathy is a direct result of reduced PAX6 gene dosage in the cornea itself, or due to recurrent corneal trauma secondary to defects such as dry eye caused by loss of PAX6 in other tissues. We investigated the hypothesis that reducing Pax6 gene dosage leads to corneal wound-healing defects. and assayed the immediate molecular responses to wounding in wild-type and mutant corneal epithelial cells.
Pax6+/- mouse corneal epithelia exhibited a 2-hour delay in their response to wounding, but subsequently the cells migrated normally to repair the wound. Both Pax6+/+ and Pax6+/- epithelia activated immediate wound-induced waves of intracellular calcium signaling. However, the intensity and speed of propagation of the calcium wave, mediated by release from intracellular stores, was reduced in Pax6+/- cells. Initiation and propagation of the calcium wave could be largely decoupled, and both phases of the calcium wave responses were required for wound healing. Wounded cells phosphorylated the extracellular signal-related kinases 1/2 (phospho-ERK1/2). ERK1/2 activation was shown to be required for rapid initiation of wound healing, but had only a minor effect on the rate of cell migration in a healing epithelial sheet. Addition of exogenous epidermal growth factor (EGF) to wounded Pax6+/- cells restored the calcium wave, increased ERK1/2 activation and restored the immediate healing response to wild-type levels.
The study links Pax6 deficiency to a previously overlooked wound-healing delay. It demonstrates that defective calcium signaling in Pax6+/- cells underlies this delay, and shows that it can be pharmacologically corrected. ERK1/2 phosphorylation is required for the rapid initiation of wound healing. A model is presented whereby minor abrasions, which are quickly healed in normal corneas, transiently persist in aniridic patients, compromising the corneal stroma.
Two major isoforms of the cell adhesion molecule neurofascin NF186 and NF155 are expressed in the central nervous system (CNS). We have investigated their roles in the assembly of the node of Ranvier and show that they are targeted to distinct domains at the node. At the onset of myelination, NF186 is restricted to neurons, whereas NF155 localizes to oligodendrocytes, the myelin-forming glia of the CNS. Coincident with axon ensheathment, NF155 clusters at the paranodal regions of the myelin sheath where it localizes in apposition to the axonal adhesion molecule paranodin/contactin-associated protein (Caspr1), which is a constituent of the septate junction-like axo-glial adhesion zone. Immunoelectron microscopy confirmed that neurofascin is a glial component of the paranodal axo-glial junction. Concentration of NF155 with Caspr1 at the paranodal junctions of peripheral nerves is also a feature of Schwann cells. In Shiverer mutant mice, which assemble neither compact CNS myelin nor normal paranodes, NF155 (though largely retained at the cell body) is also distributed at ectopic sites along axons, where it colocalizes with Caspr1. Hence, NF155 is the first glial cell adhesion molecule to be identified in the paranodal axo-glial junction, where it likely interacts with axonal proteins in close association with Caspr1.
glia; node of Ranvier; neurofascin; myelination; paranode