Purpose: Visually guided ocular growth is facilitated by scleral extracellular matrix remodeling at the posterior pole of the eye. Coincident with scleral remodeling, significant changes in choroidal morphology, blood flow, and protein synthesis have been shown to occur in eyes undergoing ocular growth changes. The current study is designed to identify gene expression changes that may occur in the choroid/retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) of marmoset eyes during their compensation for hyperopic defocus as compared to eyes compensating for myopic defocus.
Methods: Total RNA was isolated from choroid/RPE from four common marmosets (Callithrix jacchus) undergoing binocular lens treatment using extended wear soft contact lenses of equal magnitude but opposite sign (±5 diopter [D]). After reverse transcription, cDNA was labeled and hybridized to a human oligonucleotide microarray and gene transcript expression profiles were determined. Real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and western blot analysis were used to confirm genes and proteins of interest, respectively.
Results: Microarray analyses in choroid/RPE indicated 204 genes were significantly changed in minus lens-treated as compared with plus lens-treated eyes (p<0.05, Student’s t-test). Differential choroid/RPE expression of protein tyrosine phosphatase, receptor type, B (PTPRB), transforming growth factor beta-induced (TGFBI), and basic fibroblast growth factor 2 (FGF-2) were confirmed by real-time PCR. TGFBIp was confirmed at the protein level by western blot analysis in marmoset and human cornea, choroid/RPE, and sclera.
Conclusions: The present study demonstrated that significant gene expression changes occur in the marmoset choroid/RPE during visually guided ocular growth. The identification of novel candidate genes in choroid/RPE of marmoset eyes actively accelerating or decelerating their rates of ocular elongation may elucidate the choroidal response during the regulation of postnatal ocular growth and may lead to the identification of choroid/RPE signaling molecules that participate in scleral remodeling.