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.
"Granular spots with weak fluorescence were detected in both 6–week–old and 6–month–old Nrl −/− and Nrl −/− Rdh8 −/− Abca4 −/− mice, and a mild increase of AF intensity was observed with increasing age (Fig. S4A right and B). This observation is consistent with aberrant phagocytosis and transport of A2E to the RPE by these mice (Mustafi et al. 2011). However, amounts of A2E in the eye were significantly increased at 4 and 6 months of age in mice lacking Abca4 and Rdh8. "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: J. Neurochem. (2012) 121, 146–156.
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 · 4.28 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: MicroRNA-183 (miR-183), miR-96, and miR-182 comprising the miR-183/96/182 cluster are highly expressed in photoreceptor cells. Although in vitro data have indicated an important role for this cluster in the retina, details of its in vivo biological activity are still unknown. To observe the impact of the miR-183/96/182 cluster on retinal maintenance and light adaptation, we generated a sponge transgenic mouse model that disrupted the activities of the three-component microRNAs simultaneously and selectively in the retina. Although our morphological and functional studies showed no differences between transgenic and wild type mice under normal laboratory lighting conditions, sponge transgenic mice displayed severe retinal degeneration after 30 min of exposure to 10,000 lux light. Histological studies showed that the outer nuclear layer thickness was dramatically reduced in the superior retina of transgenic mice. Real time PCR experiments in both the sponge transgenic mouse model and different microRNA stable cell lines identified Arrdc3, Neurod4, and caspase-2 (Casp2) as probable downstream targets of this cluster, a result also supported by luciferase assay and immunoblotting analyses. Further studies indicated that expression of both the cluster and Casp2 increased in response to light exposure. Importantly, Casp2 expression was enhanced in transgenic mice, and inhibition of Casp2 partially rescued their light-induced retinal degeneration. By connecting the microRNA and apoptotic pathways, these findings imply an important role for the miR-183/96/182 cluster in acute light-induced retinal degeneration of mice. This study demonstrates a clear involvement of miRs in the physiology of postmitotic cells in vivo.
[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.
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