Changing lipofuscin and melanin content in RPE cells has been hypothesized to contribute to Stargardt disease pathogenesis. Longitudinal study of autofluorescence in Stargardt disease which reflect changing fluorophore compositions can reveal aspects of disease progression not previously evident.
We examined the temporal-spatial patterns of fundus autofluorescence with excitation at both 488 nm (standard fundus autofluorescence, FAF) and 795nm (near infrared autofluorescence, NIA) in a longitudinal case series involving 8 eyes of 4 patients (range of follow-up = 11 to 57 months; mean = 39 months). Image processing was performed to analyze spatial and temporal cross-modality associations.
Longitudinal FAF imaging of fleck lesions revealed hyperautofluorescent lesions that extended in a centrifugal direction from the fovea with time. Patterns of spread were non-random and followed a radial path that leaves behind a trail of diminishing autofluorescence. Longitudinal NIA imaging also demonstrated centrifugal lesion spread, but with fewer hyperautofluorescent lesions, suggestive of more transient hyperautofluorescence and more rapid decay at longer wavelengths. FAF and NIA abnormalities were spatially correlated to each other, and together reflect systematic progressions in fleck distribution and fluorophore composition occurring during the natural history of the disease.
Stargardt disease fleck lesions do not evolve randomly in location but instead follow consistent patterns of radial expansion and a systematic decay of autofluorescence that reflect changing lipofuscin and melanin compositions in RPE cells. These progressive foveal-to-peripheral changes are helpful in elucidating molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying Stargardt disease and may constitute potential outcome measures in clinical trials.
To determine the proportion of male patients presenting simplex retinal degenerative disease (RD: retinitis pigmentosa [RP] or cone/cone-rod dystrophy [COD/CORD]) with mutations in the X-linked retinal degeneration genes RPGR and RP2.
Simplex males were defined as patients with no known affected family members. Patients were excluded if they had a family history of parental consanguinity. Blood samples from a total of 214 simplex males with a diagnosis of retinal degeneration were collected for genetic analysis. The patients were screened for mutations in RPGR and RP2 by direct sequencing of PCR-amplified genomic DNA.
We identified pathogenic mutations in 32 of the 214 patients screened (15%). Of the 29 patients with a diagnosis of COD/CORD, four mutations were identified in the ORF15 mutational hotspot of the RPGR gene. Of the 185 RP patients, three patients had mutations in RP2 and 25 had RPGR mutations (including 12 in the ORF15 region).
This study represents mutation screening of RPGR and RP2 in the largest cohort, to date, of simplex males affected with RP or COD/CORD. Our results demonstrate a substantial contribution of RPGR mutations to retinal degenerations, and in particular, to simplex RP. Based on our findings, we suggest that RPGR should be considered as a first tier gene for screening isolated males with retinal degeneration.
Identification of mutations in 15% of the screened patients has important implications for guiding clinicians who are ordering genetic testing and provides a strong argument for screening the RPGR gene in simplex cases of retinal degenerative diseases.
Loss of retinoschisin (RS1) in Rs1 knock-out (Rs1–KO) retina produces a post-photoreceptor phenotype similar to X-linked retinoschisis in young males. However, Rs1 is expressed strongly in photoreceptors, and Rs1–KO mice have early reduction in the electroretinogram a-wave. We examined light-activated transducin and arrestin translocation in young Rs1–KO mice as a marker for functional abnormalities in maturing rod photoreceptors. We found a progressive reduction in luminance threshold for transducin translocation in wild-type (WT) retinas between postnatal days P18 and P60. At P21, the threshold in Rs1–KO retinas was 10-fold higher than WT, but it decreased to <2.5-fold higher by P60. Light-activated arrestin translocation and re-translocation of transducin in the dark were not affected. Rs1–KO rod outer segment (ROS) length was significantly shorter than WT at P21 but was comparable with WT at P60. These findings suggested a delay in the structural and functional maturation of Rs1–KO ROS. Consistent with this, transcription factors CRX and NRL, which are fundamental to maturation of rod protein expression, were reduced in ROS of Rs1–KO mice at P21 but not at P60. Expression of transducin was 15–30% lower in P21 Rs1–KO ROS and transducin GTPase hydrolysis was nearly twofold faster, reflecting a 1.7- to 2.5-fold increase in RGS9 (regulator of G-protein signaling) level. Transduction protein expression and activity levels were similar to WT at P60. Transducin translocation threshold elevation indicates photoreceptor functional abnormalities in young Rs1–KO mice. Rapid reduction in threshold coupled with age-related changes in transduction protein levels and transcription factor expression are consistent with delayed maturation of Rs1–KO photoreceptors.
Ciliary neurotrophic factor (CNTF) is one of the most studied neurotrophic factors for neuroprotection of the retina. A large body of evidence demonstrates that CNTF promotes rod photoreceptor survival in almost all animal models. Recent studies indicate that CNTF also promotes cone photoreceptor survival and cone outer segment regeneration in the degenerating retina and improves cone function in dogs with congenital achromotopsia. In addition, CNTF is a neuroprotective factor and an axogenesis factor for retinal ganglion cells (RGCs). This review focuses on the effects of exogenous CNTF on photoreceptors and RGCs in the mammalian retina and the potential clinical application of CNTF for retinal degenerative diseases.
CNTF; photoreceptors; retinal ganglion cells; retinal degeneration; neuroprotection; photoreceptor plasticity
Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) is a common form of retinal degeneration characterized by photoreceptor degeneration and retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) atrophy causing loss of visual field and acuities. Exome sequencing identified a novel homozygous splice site variant (c.111+1G>A) in the gene encoding retinol binding protein 4 (RBP4). This change segregated with early onset, progressive, and severe autosomal recessive retinitis pigmentosa (arRP) in an eight member consanguineous pedigree of European ancestry. Additionally, one patient exhibited developmental abnormalities including patent ductus arteriosus and chorioretinal and iris colobomas. The second patient developed acne from young age and extending into the 5th decade. Both patients had undetectable levels of RBP4 in the serum suggesting that this mutation led to either mRNA or protein instability resulting in a null phenotype. In addition, the patients exhibited severe vitamin A deficiency, and diminished serum retinol levels. Circulating transthyretin levels were normal. This study identifies the RBP4 splice site change as the cause of RP in this pedigree. The presence of developmental abnormalities and severe acne in patients with retinal degeneration may indicate the involvement of genes that regulate vitamin A absorption, transport and metabolism.
X-linked retinoschisis; Retinoschisin; Discoidin domain; Mutations; Retina; Photoreceptors; Bipolar cells; Synapse; Gene therapy
To identify pathogenic mutations responsible for autosomal recessive retinitis pigmentosa in 5 consanguineous Pakistani families.
Affected individuals in the families underwent a detailed ophthalmological examination that consisted of fundus photography and electroretinography. Blood samples were collected from all participating family members, and genomic DNA was extracted. A genome-wide linkage scan was performed, followed by exclusion analyses among our cohort of nuclear consanguineous families with microsatellite markers spanning the TULP1 locus on chromosome 6p. Two-point logarithm of odds scores were calculated, and all coding exons of TULP1 were sequenced bidirectionally.
The results of ophthalmological examinations among affected individuals in these 5 families were suggestive of retinitis pigmentosa. The genome-wide linkage scan localized the disease interval to chromosome 6p, harboring TULP1 in 1 of 5 families, and sequential analyses identified a single base pair substitution in TULP1 that results in threonine to alanine substitution (p.T380A). Subsequently, we investigated our entire cohort of families with autosomal recessive retinitis pigmentosa and identified 4 additional families with linkage to chromosome 6p, all of them harboring a single base pair substitution in TULP1 that results in lysine to arginine substitution (p.K489R). Results of single-nucleotide polymorphism haplotype analyses were suggestive of a common founder in these 4 families.
Pathogenic mutations in TULP1 are responsible for the autosomal recessive retinitis pigmentosa phenotype in these consanguineous Pakistani families, with a single ancestral mutation in TULP1 causing the disease phenotype in 4 of 5 families.
Clinical and molecular characterization of pathogenic mutations in TULP1 will increase our understanding of retinitis pigmentosa at a molecular level.
To identify disease-causing mutations in two consanguineous Pakistani families with fundus albipunctatus.
Affected individuals in both families underwent a thorough clinical examination including funduscopy and electroretinography. Blood samples were collected from all participating members and genomic DNA was extracted. Exclusion analysis was completed with microsatellite short tandem repeat markers that span all reported loci for fundus albipunctatus. Two-point logarithm of odds (LOD) scores were calculated, and coding exons and exon–intron boundaries of RLBP1 were sequenced bi-directionally.
The ophthalmic examination of affected patients in both families was consistent with fundus albipunctatus. The alleles of markers on chromosome 15q flanking RLBP1 segregated with the disease phenotype in both families and linkage was further confirmed by two-point LOD scores. Bi-directional sequencing of RLBP1 identified a nonsense mutation (R156X) and a missense mutation (G116R) that segregated with the disease phenotype in their respective families.
These results strongly suggest that mutations in RLBP1 are responsible for fundus albipunctatus in the affected individuals of these consanguineous Pakistani families.
Congenital stationary night blindness is characterized by impaired night vision, decreased visual acuity, nystagmus, myopia, and strabismus. A genome-wide linkage scan was completed that localized the critical interval to the short arm of chromosome 3 and sequencing identified a novel missense mutation in GNAT1.
Congenital stationary night blindness is a nonprogressive retinal disorder manifesting as impaired night vision and is generally associated with other ocular symptoms, such as nystagmus, myopia, and strabismus. This study was conducted to further investigate the genetic basis of CSNB in a consanguineous Pakistani family.
A consanguineous family with multiple individuals manifesting cardinal symptoms of congenital stationary night blindness was ascertained. All family members underwent detailed ophthalmic examination, including fundus photographic examination and electroretinography. Blood samples were collected and genomic DNA was extracted. Exclusion and genome-wide linkage analyses were completed and two-point LOD scores were calculated. Bidirectional sequencing of GNAT1 was completed, and quantitative expression of Gnat1 transcript levels were investigated in ocular tissues at different postnatal intervals.
The results of ophthalmic examinations were suggestive of early-onset stationary night blindness with no extraocular anomalies. The genome-wide scan localized the critical interval to chromosome 3, region p22.1-p14.3, with maximum two-point LOD scores of 3.09 at θ = 0, flanked by markers D3S3522 and D3S1289. Subsequently, a missense mutation in GNAT1, p.D129G, was identified, which segregated within the family, consistent with an autosomal recessive mode of inheritance, and was not present in 192 ethnically matched control chromosomes. Expression analysis suggested that Gnat1 is expressed at approximately postnatal day (P)7 and is predominantly expressed in the retina.
These data suggest that a homozygous missense mutation in GNAT1 is associated with autosomal recessive stationary night blindness.
To identify a disease locus for autosomal recessive retinitis pigmentosa in a consanguineous Pakistani family.
Prospective linkage study.
Blood samples were collected and genomic DNA was extracted. A genome-wide scan was performed using 382 polymorphic microsatellite markers on genomic DNA from 4 affected and 5 unaffected family members, and logarithm of odds scores were calculated.
A maximum 2-point logarithm of odds score of 3.14 at θ = 0 was obtained for marker D2S165 during the genome-wide scan. Fine mapping markers identified a 20.92-cM (19.98-Mb) interval flanked by D2S149 and D2S367 that cosegregates with the disease phenotype. Haplotype analyses further refined the critical interval, distal to D2S220 in a 12.31-cM (13.35-Mb) region that does not harbor any genes that previously have been associated with retinitis pigmentosa.
Linkage analysis identified a new locus for autosomal recessive retinitis pigmentosa that maps to chromosome 2p22.3-p24.1 in a consanguineous Pakistani family.
Retinitis pigmentosa (RP) is one of the most common ophthalmic disorders affecting one in approximately 5000 people worldwide. A nuclear family was recruited from the Punjab province of Pakistan to study the genetic basis of autosomal recessive RP.
All affected individuals underwent a thorough ophthalmic examination and the disease was characterised based upon results for fundus photographs and electroretinogram recordings. Genomic DNA was extracted from peripheral leucocytes. Exclusion studies were performed with short tandem repeat (STR) markers flanking reported autosomal recessive RP loci. Haplotypes were constructed and results were statistically evaluated.
The results of exclusion analyses suggested that family PKRP173 was linked to chromosome 2q harbouring mer tyrosine kinase protooncogene (MERTK), a gene previously associated with autosomal recessive RP. Additional STR markers refined the critical interval and placed it in a 13.4 cM (17 Mb) region flanked by D2S293 proximally and D2S347 distally. Significant logarithm of odds (LOD) scores of 3.2, 3.25 and 3.18 at θ=0 were obtained with markers D2S1896, D2S2269 and D2S160. Sequencing of the coding exons of MERTK identified a mutation, c.718G→T in exon 4, which results in a premature termination of p.E240X that segregates with the disease phenotype in the family.
Our results strongly suggest that the nonsense mutation in MERTK, leading to premature termination of the protein, is responsible for RP phenotype in the affected individuals of the Pakistani family.
The authors evaluated retinal function using full-field ERG in 68 XLRS subjects who were examined at the National Eye Institute and identified a mutation in RS1. Using molecular modeling, they evaluated the molecular implications of different RS mutations on protein function. Based on such modeling, subjects were classified into two groups: those with less severe mutations and those with more severe mutations. The authors then examined the association between putative genotype severity and disease phenotype (ERG measurements).
To assess the effect of age and RS1 mutation on the phenotype of X-linked retinoschisis (XLRS) subjects using the clinical electroretinogram (ERG) in a cross-sectional analysis.
Sixty-eight XLRS males 4.5 to 55 years of age underwent genotyping, and the retinoschisis (RS1) mutations were classified as less severe (27 subjects) or more severe (41 subjects) based on the putative impact on the protein. ERG parameters of retinal function were analyzed by putative mutation severity with age as a continuous variable.
The a-wave amplitude remained greater than the lower limit of normal (mean, −2 SD) for 72% of XLRS males and correlated with neither age nor mutation class. However, b-wave and b/a-ratio amplitudes were significantly lower in the more severe than in the less severe mutation groups and in older than in younger subjects. Subjects up to 10 years of age with more severe RS1 mutations had significantly greater b-wave amplitudes and faster a-wave trough implicit times than older subjects in this group.
RS1 mutation putative severity and age both had significant effects on retinal function in XLRS only in the severe mutation group, as judged by ERG analysis of the b-wave amplitude and the b/a-ratio, whereas the a-wave amplitude remained normal in most. A new observation was that increasing age (limited to those aged 55 and younger) caused a significant delay in XLRS b-wave onset (i.e., a-wave implicit time), even for those who retained considerable b-wave amplitudes. The delayed b-wave onset suggested that dysfunction of the photoreceptor synapse or of bipolar cells increases with age of XLRS subjects.
Retinoschisin (RS1) is a cell-surface adhesion molecule expressed by photoreceptor and bipolar cells of the retina. The 24-kDa protein encodes two conserved sequence motifs: the initial signal sequence targets the protein for secretion while the larger discoidin domain is implicated in cell adhesion. RS1 helps to maintain the structural organization of the retinal cell layers and promotes visual signal transduction. RS1 gene mutations cause X-linked retinoschisis disease (XLRS) in males, characterized by early-onset central vision loss. We analyzed the biochemical consequences of several RS1 signal-sequence mutants (c.1A>T, c.35T>A, c.38T>C, and c.52G>A) found in our subjects. Expression analysis in COS-7 cells demonstrates that they affect RS1 biosynthesis and result in an RS1 null phenotype by several different mechanisms. By comparison, discoidin-domain mutations generally lead to nonfunctional conformational variants that remain trapped inside the cell. XLRS disease has a broad heterogeneity in general, but subjects with the RS1 null-protein signal-sequence mutations are on the more severe end of the clinical phenotype. Results from the signal-sequence mutants are discussed in the context of the discoidin-domain mutations, clinical phenotypes, genotype–phenotype correlations, and implications for RS1 gene replacement therapy.
retinoschisin; X-linked retinoschisis; XLRS; signal sequence; discoidin; splicing
Retinoschisin (RS1) is a retina-specific secreted protein encoding a conserved discoidin domain sequence. As an adhesion molecule, RS1 preserves the retinal cell architecture and promotes visual signal transduction. In young males, loss-of-function mutations in the X- linked retinoschisis gene (RS1) cause X-linked retinoschisis, a form of progressive blindness. Neither the structure of RS1 nor the nature of its anchoring and organization on the plasma membranes is fully understood. The discoidin C2 domains of coagulation factors V and VIII are known to interact with extracellular phosphatidylserine (PS). In this study we have used atomic force microscopy (AFM) to study the interactions of murine retinoschisin (Rs1) with supported anionic lipid bilayers in the presence of Ca2+. The bilayers consisting of a single lipid, PS, and mixtures of lipids with or without PS were used. Consistent with previous X-ray diffraction studies, AFM imaging showed two distinct domains in pure PS bilayers when Ca2+ was present. Upon Rs1 adsorption, these PS and PS-containing mixed bilayers underwent fast and extensive reorganization. Protein localization was ascertained by immunolabeling. AFM imaging showed the Rs1 antibody bound exclusively to the calcium-rich ordered phase of the bilayers pointing to the sequestration of Rs1 within those domains. This was further supported by the increased mechanical strength of these domains after Rs1 binding. Besides, changes in bilayer thickness suggested that Rs1 was partially embedded into the bilayer. These findings support a model whereby the Rs1 protein binds to PS in the retinal cell plasma membranes in a calcium-dependent manner.
This study was designed to identify pathogenic mutations causing autosomal recessive retinitis pigmentosa (RP) in consanguineous Pakistani families.
Two consanguineous families affected with autosomal recessive RP were identified from the Punjab Province of Pakistan. All affected individuals underwent a thorough ophthalmologic examination. Blood samples were collected, and genomic DNAs were extracted. Exclusion analysis was completed, and two-point LOD scores were calculated. Bidirectional sequencing of the β subunit of phosphodiesterase 6 (PDE6β) was completed.
During exclusion analyses both families localized to chromosome 4p, harboring PDE6β, a gene previously associated with autosomal recessive RP. Sequencing of PDE6β identified missense mutations: c.1655G>A (p.R552Q) and c.1160C>T (p.P387L) in families PKRP161 and PKRP183, respectively. Bioinformatic analyses suggested that both mutations are deleterious for the native three-dimensional structure of the PDE6β protein.
These results strongly suggest that mutations in PDE6β are responsible for the disease phenotype in the consanguineous Pakistani families.
To investigate the retinal structure and function during the progression of X-linked retinoschisis (XLRS) from childhood to adulthood.
Ten patients clinically diagnosed with XLRS were investigated at 6–15 years of age (mean age 9 years) with a follow-up 8 to 14 years later (mean 12 years). The patients underwent regular ophthalmic examination as well as testing of best corrected visual acuity (BCVA), visual field (VF) and assessment of full-field electroretinography (ERG) during their first visit. During the follow-up, the same clinical protocols were repeated. In addition, macular structure and function was examined with multifocal electroretinography (mfERG) and optical coherence tomography (OCT). The patients were 18–25 years of age (mean age 21 years) at the follow-up examination. All exons and exon-intron boundaries of RS1-gene were sequenced for gene mutations in 9 out of the 10 patients.
Best corrected VA and VF were stable during this follow-up period. No significant progression in cone or rod function could be measured by full-field ERG. Multifocal electroretinography and OCT demonstrated a wide heterogeneity of macular changes in retinal structure and function at the time of follow-up visit. Three different mutations were detected in these nine patients, including a known nonsense mutation in exon 3, a novel insertion in exon 5 and an intronic mutation at 5' splice site of intron 3.
Clinical follow-up (mean 12 years) of ten young XLRS patients (mean age of 9 years) with a typical congenital retinoschisis phenotype revealed no significant decline in retinal function during this time period. MfERG and OCT demonstrated a wide variety of macular changes including structure and dysfunction. The XLRS disease was relatively stable during this period of observation and would afford opportunity for therapy studies to judge benefit against baseline and against the fellow eye.
XLRS; genotype; phenotype; rate of progression
Explore the retinoschisin (RS1) protein biochemical phenotype from an RS1 exon-5 deletion/insertion frame-shift mutation in an X-linked retinoschisis (XLRS) family and describe the clinical and electrophysiological features.
Six XLRS males underwent ophthalmologic examination and electroretinogram (ERG) recording. The RS1 gene was sequenced. Mutant RS1-RNA and protein expression were assessed by transfecting COS-7 cells with minigene constructs.
All six males carried the RS1 c354del1-ins18 mutation in which an 18-bp insertion replaced nucleotide 354, duplicating the adjacent upstream intron-4-to-exon-5 junction and causing a premature termination codon downstream. Analysis indicated normal pre-mRNA splicing producing mRNA transcripts. Truncated RS1 protein was expressed transiently but was degraded rapidly by a proteasomal pathway rather than by nonsense mediated mRNA decay. Two boys, 1.5 and 5 years old (y/o), had foveal cysts and minimal peripheral schisis, and retained near-normal scotopic b-wave amplitude and normal ERG waveforms. The 5 y/o's ERG was reduced when repeated three years later. Four older XLRS relatives 32-45 y/o had substantial b-wave loss and strongly “electronegative” ERGs; three had overt macular atrophy. Cross-sectional family analysis showed the b/a-wave amplitude ratio as inversely related to age in the six males.
The c354del1-ins18 mutation causes an RS1 null biochemical phenotype and a progressive clinical phenotype in a 5-y/o male, while the older XLRS relatives had macular atrophy and marked ERG changes. The phenotypic heterogeneity with age by cross-sectional study of this family mutation argues that XLRS disease is not stationary and raises questions regarding factors involved in progression.
To determine the cellular consequences of retinal detachment in retinoschisin knockout (Rs1-KO) mice, a model for retinoschisin in humans.
Experimental retinal detachments (RDs) were induced in the right eyes of both Rs1-KO and wild-type (wt) control mice. Immunocytochemistry was performed on retinal tissue at 1, 7, or 28 days after RD with antibodies to anti-GFAP, -neurofilament, and -rod opsin to examine cellular changes after detachment. Images of the immunostained tissue were captured by laser scanning confocal microscopy. Quantitative analysis was performed to measure the number of Hoechst-stained photoreceptor nuclei and their density, number, and size of inner retinal cavities, as well as the number of subretinal glial scars.
Since detachments were created with balanced salt solution, by examination, all retinas had spontaneously reattached by 1 day. Cellular responses common to many photoreceptor degenerations occurred in the nondetached retinas of Rs1-KO mice, and, of importance, RD did not appear to significantly accentuate these responses. The number of schisis cavities was not changed after detachment, but their size was reduced.
These data indicate that large short-term RD in Rs1-KO mice, followed by a period of reattachment may cause a slight increase in photoreceptor cell death, but detachments do not accentuate the gliosis and neurite sprouting already present and may in fact reduce the size of existing retinal cavities. This finding suggests that performing subretinal injections to deliver therapeutic agents may be a viable option in the treatment of patients with retinoschisis without causing significant cellular damage to the retina.
Lens epithelium–derived growth factor (LEDGF) is upregulated in response to stress and enhances the survival of neurons in the retina and optic nerve, as well as a wide range of other cells, such as fibroblasts and keratinocytes. Photoreceptor protection was investigated in the RCS rat retinal degeneration model after Ledgf delivery with an adeno-associated virus (AAV) and the mechanism of protection explored.
Thirty-six RCS and nine P23H rats had bilateral subretinal injections of AAV-Ledgf in one eye and buffer in the contralateral eye as the control. Retinal function was evaluated 8 weeks later by the electroretinogram and compared with photoreceptor cell layer count. LEDGF mRNA and protein levels and mRNA levels of known stress-related factors were compared in treated and control retinas to explore the mechanism of LEDGF protection. Nine RCS rats were treated with adenovirus-heat shock protein 27 (Ad-HSP27) and examined for protection.
Significant photoreceptor protection was evident functionally and morphologically in 65% to 100% of the RCS rats treated at early ages of up to 7 weeks. Cell protection was more prominent in the superior retinal hemisphere which has a slower natural degeneration rate in untreated eyes. Although many of the heat shock proteins and other stress-related genes showed significant elevation in the AAV-Ledgf–treated eyes, all increases were approximately twofold or less. Transduction of retinal cells with Ad-HSP27 also resulted in photoreceptor protection. AAV-Ledgf elicited no photoreceptor functional protection in P23H rhodopsin transgenic rat retina.
Chronic LEDGF treatment via AAV-Ledgf administration gave successful protection of photoreceptors in the RCS rat retina and retarded cell death by about 2 weeks. Induction of heat shock proteins also gave photoreceptor protection. However, compelling evidence was not found that LEDGF protection was associated with upregulation of heat shock proteins.
The G90D rhodopsin mutation is known to produce congenital night blindness in humans. This mutation produces a similar condition in mice, since rods of animals heterozygous (D+) or homozygous (D+/+) for this mutation have decreased dark current and sensitivity, reduced Ca2+, and accelerated values of τREC and τD, similar to light-adapted WT rods. Our experiments indicate that G90D pigment activates the cascade, producing an equivalent background light of about 130 Rh* rod−1 for D+ and 890 Rh* rod−1 for D+/+. The active species of the G90D pigment could be unregenerated G90D opsin or G90D rhodopsin, either spontaneously activated (as Rh*) or in some other form. Addition of 11-cis retinal in lipid vesicles, which produces regeneration of both WT and G90D opsin in intact rods and ROS membranes, had no effect on the waveform or sensitivity of dark-adapted G90D responses, indicating that the active species is not G90D opsin. The noise spectrum of a dark-adapted G90D and WT rods are similar, and the G90D noise variance is much less than of a WT rod exposed to background light of about the same intensity as the G90D equivalent light, indicating that Rh* is not the active species. We hypothesize that G90D rhodopsin undergoes spontaneous changes in molecular conformation which activate the transduction cascade with low gain. Our experiments provide the first indication that a mutant form of the rhodopsin molecule bound to its 11-cis chromophore can stimulate the visual cascade spontaneously at a rate large enough to produce visual dysfunction.
Photoreceptor; Rod; Transduction; Adaptation; Rhodopsin; Vision
Previous experiments indicate that congenital human retinal degeneration caused by genetic mutations that change the Ca2+ sensitivity of retinal guanylyl cyclase (retGC) can result from an increase in concentration of free intracellular cGMP and Ca2+ in the photoreceptors. To rescue degeneration in transgenic mouse models having either the Y99C or E155G mutations of the retGC modulator guanylyl cyclase-activating protein 1 (GCAP-1), which produce elevated cGMP synthesis in the dark, we used the G90D rhodopsin mutation, which produces constitutive stimulation of cGMP hydrolysis. The effects of the G90D transgene were evaluated by measuring retGC activity biochemically, by recording single rod and electroretinogram (ERG) responses, by intracellular free Ca2+ measurement, and by retinal morphological analysis. Although the G90D rhodopsin did not alter the abnormal Ca2+ sensitivity of retGC in the double-mutant animals, the intracellular free cGMP and Ca2+ concentrations returned close to normal levels, consistent with constitutive activation of the phosphodiesterase PDE6 cascade in darkness. G90D decreased the light sensitivity of rods but spared them from severe retinal degeneration in Y99C and E155G GCAP-1 mice. More than half of the photoreceptors remained alive, appeared morphologically normal, and produced electrical responses, at the time when their siblings lacking the G90D rhodopsin transgene lost the entire retinal outer nuclear layer and no longer responded to illumination. These experiments indicate that mutations that lead to increases in cGMP and Ca2+ can trigger photoreceptor degeneration but that constitutive activation of the transduction cascade in these animals can greatly enhance cell survival.
rod; retina; degeneration; cGMP; GCAP; guanylyl cyclase; calcium
At an early age, the retinoschisin knockout (Rs1-KO) mouse retina has progressive photoreceptor degeneration with severe disruption of the outer plexiform layer (OPL) that decreases at older ages. The electroretinogram (ERG) undergoes parallel changes. The b-wave amplitude from bipolar cells is reduced disproportionately to the photoreceptor a-wave at young but not at older ages. The protein expression and morphology of the OPL in Rs1-KO mice was investigated at different ages, to explore the role of the synaptic layer in these ERG changes.
Retinas of wild-type (Wt) and Rs1-KO mice from postnatal day (P)7 to 12 months were evaluated by light and electron microscopy (EM) and biochemistry. PSD95 (postsynaptic density protein), mGluR6 (metabotropic glutamate receptor subtype 6), retinoschisin (Rs1), the Müller cell proteins glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) and glutamine synthetase (GS), the bipolar cell marker protein kinase C alpha (PKCα), and the horizontal cell marker calbindin were localized by immunofluorescence and immuno-EM. Levels of PSD95 and mGluR6 were determined by quantitative Western blot. Rs1-KO mice treated by intravitreous injection of rAAV(2/2)-CMV-Rs1 in one eye at P14 were evaluated at 8 months by full-field scotopic ERG responses and retinal immunohistochemistry.
Rs1 was associated with the outer surface of synaptic membranes in wild-type (Wt) retinas. PSD95 and mGluR6 were juxtaposed in the OPL of the Rs1-KO retinas by P14, implying that synaptic structures are formed. Light microscopic retinal morphology was similar in Wt and Rs1-KO at P14, but by P21, the OPL was disrupted in Rs1-KO, and some PSD95 and mGluR6 was mislocalized in the outer nuclear layer (ONL). GFAP expression spanned all retinal layers. EM showed synaptic structures adjacent to photoreceptor nuclei. PSD95 and mGluR6 levels were normal at 1 month on Western blot but declined to 59% (P < 0.001) and 55% (P < 0.05) of Wt, respectively, by 4 months. Levels thereafter showed no further reduction out to 12 months. Eyes injected with AAV-Rs1 were studied at 8 months by immunohistochemistry and had higher expression of PSD95 and mGluR6 and less GFAP expression compared with fellow untreated eyes.
In the Rs1-KO mouse, retinal layer formation and synaptic protein
expression in the OPL is normal up to P14, implying normal development of synaptic
connections. Aberrant localization of synaptic proteins by P21 indicates that displacement of developing and/or mature synapses contributes to the b-wave reduction at young ages, when photoreceptor numbers and synaptic protein levels are normal. The subsequent decline in PSD95 and mGluR6 between 1 and 12 months in Rs1-KO retina mirrors the course of b-wave change and provides evidence of causal relationship between the ERG and OPL changes. These findings and the improved structural integrity of the OPL and b-wave amplitude after Rs1 gene transfer therapy provide a cellular and molecular basis for interpreting the changes in retinal signaling in this model. (Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2008; 49:3677-3686) DOI:10.1167/iovs.07-1071
Retinoschisin (RS) is a 24 kDa secreted protein expressed in retina and is required for the structural and functional integrity of the retina. RS has been predicted to serve as an adhesive protein but the precise molecular mechanism by which it functions in retina is not yet known. During investigations on structural and functional aspects of RS in murine retina using proteomic tools, we identified two isoforms of RS that differed in mass by 200 Da with no apparent change in charge. Mass spectra and amino acid sequence analysis of the tryptic peptides revealed that these isoforms differed by two amino acids at the N-terminus which suggested processing of RS signal sequence at two cleavage sites by signal peptidase as the basic mechanism underlying the occurrence of two mature RS isoforms in retina. Bioinformatic analysis identified two potential cleavage sites (between amino acids 21-22 and 23-24) in RS signal sequence. The flexibility of the signal peptidase to cleave at two sites is correlated to the amino acid composition of the RS signal sequence. This finding represents a rare example of a naturally occurring signal sequence cleavage at more than one site in vivo.
Retina; Retinoschisin; Post-Translational Modifications; Isoforms; Signal Sequence; Signal peptidase; Processing; X-linked retinoschisis; Missense mutations