Defective photoreceptor phagocytosis in a mouse model of enhanced S-cone syndrome causes progressive retinal degeneration

Department of Pharmacology, School of Medicine, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio 44106-4965, USA.
The FASEB Journal (Impact Factor: 5.48). 06/2011; 25(9):3157-76. DOI: 10.1096/fj.11-186767
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Enhanced S-cone syndrome (ESCS), featuring an excess number of S cones, manifests as a progressive retinal degeneration that leads to blindness. Here, through optical imaging, we identified an abnormal interface between photoreceptors and the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) in 9 patients with ESCS. The neural retina leucine zipper transcription factor-knockout (Nrl(-/-)) mouse model demonstrates many phenotypic features of human ESCS, including unstable S-cone-positive photoreceptors. Using massively parallel RNA sequencing, we identified 6203 differentially expressed transcripts between wild-type (Wt) and Nrl(-/-) mouse retinas, with 6 highly significant differentially expressed genes of the Pax, Notch, and Wnt canonical pathways. Changes were also obvious in expression of 30 genes involved in the visual cycle and 3 key genes in photoreceptor phagocytosis. Novel high-resolution (100 nm) imaging and reconstruction of Nrl(-/-) retinas revealed an abnormal packing of photoreceptors that contributed to buildup of photoreceptor deposits. Furthermore, lack of phagosomes in the RPE layer of Nrl(-/-) retina revealed impairment in phagocytosis. Cultured RPE cells from Wt and Nrl(-/-) mice illustrated that the phagocytotic defect was attributable to the aberrant interface between ESCS photoreceptors and the RPE. Overcoming the retinal phagocytosis defect could arrest the progressive degenerative component of this disease.

  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: All-trans-retinal and its condensation-products can cause retinal degeneration in a light-dependent manner and contribute to the pathogenesis of human macular diseases such as Stargardt's disease and age-related macular degeneration. Although these toxic retinoid by-products originate from rod and cone photoreceptor cells, the contribution of each cell type to light-induced retinal degeneration is unknown. In this study, the primary objective was to learn whether rods or cones are more susceptible to light-induced, all-trans-retinal-mediated damage. Previously, we reported that mice lacking enzymes that clear all-trans-retinal from the retina, ATP-binding cassette transporter 4 and retinol dehydrogenase 8, manifested light-induced retinal dystrophy. We first examined early-stage age-related macular degeneration patients and found retinal degenerative changes in rod-rich rather than cone-rich regions of the macula. We then evaluated transgenic mice with rod-only and cone-like-only retinas in addition to progenies of such mice inbred with Rdh8(-/-) Abca4(-/-) mice. Of all these strains, Rdh8(-/-) Abca4(-/-) mice with a mixed rod-cone population showed the most severe retinal degeneration under regular cyclic light conditions. Intense light exposure induced acute retinal damage in Rdh8(-/-) Abca4(-/-) and rod-only mice but not cone-like-only mice. These findings suggest that progression of retinal degeneration in Rdh8(-/-) Abca4(-/-) mice is affected by differential vulnerability of rods and cones to light.
    Journal of Neurochemistry 01/2012; 121(1):146-56. DOI:10.1111/j.1471-4159.2012.07647.x · 4.24 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Neural retina leucine zipper (NRL) is an essential transcription factor for cell fate specification and functional maintenance of rod photoreceptors in the mammalian retina. In the Nrl(-/-) mouse retina, photoreceptor precursors fail to produce rods and generate functional cone photoreceptors that predominantly express S-opsin. Previous global expression analysis using microarrays revealed dramatically reduced expression of myocyte enhancer factor Mef2c in the adult Nrl(-/-) retina. We undertook this study to examine the biological relevance of Mef2c expression in retinal rod photoreceptors. Bioinformatics analysis, rapid analysis of cDNA ends (5'-RACE), and reverse transcription coupled with qPCR using splice site-specific oligonucleotides suggested that Mef2c is expressed in the mature retina from an alternative promoter. Chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) studies showed the association of active RNA polymerase II and acetylated histone H3 just upstream of Mef2c exon 4, providing additional evidence for the utilization of an alternative promoter in the retina. In concordance, we observed the binding of NRL to a putative NRL-response element (NRE) at this location by ChIP-seq and electrophoretic mobility shift assays. NRL also activated the Mef2c alternative promoter in vitro and in vivo. Notably, MEF2C could support Rhodopsin promoter activity in rod photoreceptors. We conclude that Mef2c expression from an alternative promoter in the retina is regulated by NRL. Our studies also implicate MEF2C as a transcriptional regulator of homeostasis in rod photoreceptor cells.
    Journal of Biological Chemistry 08/2011; 286(40):34893-902. DOI:10.1074/jbc.M111.271072 · 4.60 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Visual perception in humans occurs through absorption of electromagnetic radiation from 400 to 780 nm by photoreceptors in the retina. A photon of visible light carries a sufficient amount of energy to cause, when absorbed, a cis,trans-geometric isomerization of the 11-cis-retinal chromophore, a vitamin A derivative bound to rhodopsin and cone opsins of retinal photoreceptors. The unique biochemistry of these complexes allows us to reliably and reproducibly collect continuous visual information about our environment. Moreover, other nonconventional retinal opsins such as the circadian rhythm regulator melanopsin also initiate light-activated signaling based on similar photochemistry.
    Journal of Biological Chemistry 11/2011; 287(3):1612-9. DOI:10.1074/jbc.R111.301150 · 4.60 Impact Factor