M L Funderburgh

University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States

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Publications (30)124.08 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Emulating corneal stromal tissue is believed to be the most challenging step in bioengineering an artificial human cornea because of the difficulty in reproducing its highly ordered microstructure, the key to the robust biomechanical properties and optical transparency of this tissue. We conducted a comparative study to assess the feasibility of human corneal stromal stem cells (hCSSCs) and human corneal fibroblasts (hCFs) in the generation of human corneal stromal tissue on groove-patterned silk substrates. In serum-free keratocyte differentiation medium, hCSSCs successfully differentiated into keratocytes secreting multilayered lamellae with orthogonally-oriented collagen fibrils, in a pattern mimicking human corneal stromal tissue. The constructs were 90-100 μm thick, containing abundant cornea-specific extracellular matrix (ECM) components, including keratan sulfate, lumican, and keratocan. In contrast, hCFs tended to differentiate into myofibroblasts that deposited less organized collagen in a pattern resembling that of corneal scar tissue. RGD surface coupling coupling was an essential factor in enhancing cell attachment, orientation, proliferation, differentiation and ECM deposition on the silk substratum. These results demonstrated that an approach of combining hCSSCs with an RGD surface-coupled patterned silk film offers a powerful tool to develop highly ordered collagen fibril-based constructs for corneal regeneration and corneal stromal tissue repair.
    Biomaterials 02/2014; · 8.31 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Human corneal fibroblasts (HCF) and corneal stromal stem cells (CSSC) each secrete and organize a thick stroma-like extracellular matrix in response to different substrata, but neither cell type organizes matrix on tissue-culture polystyrene. This study compared cell differentiation and extracellular matrix secreted by these two cell types when they were cultured on identical substrata, polycarbonate Transwell filters. After 4 weeks in culture, both cell types upregulated expression of genes marking differentiated keratocytes (KERA, CHST6, AQP1, B3GNT7). Absolute expression levels of these genes and secretion of keratan sulfate proteoglycans were significantly greater in CSSC than HCF. Both cultures produced extensive extracellular matrix of aligned collagen fibrils types I and V, exhibiting cornea-like lamellar structure. Unlike HCF, CSSC produced little matrix in the presence of serum. Construct thickness and collagen organization was enhanced by TGF-ß3. Scanning electron microscopic examination of the polycarbonate membrane revealed shallow parallel grooves with spacing of 200-300 nm, similar to the topography of aligned nanofiber substratum which we previously showed to induce matrix organization by CSSC. These results demonstrate that both corneal fibroblasts and stromal stem cells respond to a specific pattern of topographical cues by secreting highly organized extracellular matrix typical of corneal stroma. The data also suggest that the potential for matrix secretion and organization may not be directly related to the expression of molecular markers used to identify differentiated keratocytes.
    PLoS ONE 01/2014; 9(1):e86260. · 3.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Corneal transparency depends on a unique extracellular matrix secreted by stromal keratocytes, mesenchymal cells of neural crest lineage. Derivation of keratocytes from human embryonic stem (hES) cells could elucidate the keratocyte developmental pathway and open a potential for cell-based therapy for corneal blindness. This study seeks to identify conditions inducing differentiation of pluripotent hES cells to the keratocyte lineage. Neural differentiation of hES cell line WA01(H1) was induced by co-culture with mouse PA6 fibroblasts. After 6 days of co-culture, hES cells expressing cell-surface NGFR protein (CD271, p75NTR) were isolated by immunoaffinity adsorption, and cultured as a monolayer for one week. Keratocyte phenotype was induced by substratum-independent pellet culture in serum-free medium containing ascorbate. Gene expression, examined by quantitative RT-PCR, found hES cells co-cultured with PA6 cells for 6 days to upregulate expression of neural crest genes including NGFR, SNAI1, NTRK3, SOX9, and MSX1. Isolated NGFR-expressing cells were free of PA6 feeder cells. After expansion as a monolayer, mRNAs typifying adult stromal stem cells were detected, including BMI1, KIT, NES, NOTCH1, and SIX2. When these cells were cultured as substratum-free pellets keratocyte markers AQP1, B3GNT7, PTDGS, and ALDH3A1 were upregulated. mRNA for keratocan (KERA), a cornea-specific proteoglycan, was upregulated more than 10,000 fold. Culture medium from pellets contained high molecular weight keratocan modified with keratan sulfate, a unique molecular component of corneal stroma. These results show hES cells can be induced to differentiate into keratocytes in vitro. Pluripotent stem cells, therefore, may provide a renewable source of material for development of treatment of corneal stromal opacities.
    PLoS ONE 02/2013; 8(2):e56831. · 3.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: To isolate and characterize stem cells from human trabecular meshwork (TM) and to investigate the potential of these stem cells to differentiate into TM cells. Human trabecular meshwork stem cells (TMSCs) were isolated as side population cells by fluorescence-activated cell sorting or isolated by clonal cultures. Passaged TMSCs were compared with primary TM cells by immunostaining and quantitative RT-PCR. TMSC purity was assessed by flow cytometry and TMSC multipotency was examined by induction of neural cells, adipocytes, keratocytes, or TM cells. Differential gene expression was detected by quantitative RT-PCR, immunostaining, and immunoblotting. TM cell function was evaluated by phagocytic assay using inactivated Staphylococcus aureus bioparticles. Side population and clonal isolated cells expressed stem cell markers ABCG2, Notch1, OCT-3/4, AnkG, and MUC1 but not TM markers AQP1, MGP, CHI3L1, or TIMP3. Passaged TMSCs are a homogeneous population with >95% cells positive to CD73, CD90, CD166, or Bmi1. TMSCs exhibited multipotent ability of differentiation into a variety of cell types with expression of neural markers neurofilament, β-tubulin III, GFAP; or keratocyte-specific markers keratan sulfate and keratocan; or adipocyte markers ap2 and leptin. TMSC readily differentiated into TM cells with phagocytic function and expression of TM markers AQP1, CHI3L1, and TIMP3. TMSCs, isolated as side population or as clones, express specific stem cell markers, are homogeneous and multipotent, with the ability to differentiate into phagocytic TM cells. These cells offer a potential for development of a novel stem cell-based therapy for glaucoma.
    Investigative ophthalmology & visual science 02/2012; 53(3):1566-75. · 3.43 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Purpose: The clarity of the cornea is a property of the highly organized extracellular matrix secreted by stromal keratocytes, mesenchymal cells of neural crest (NC) lineage. Derivation of keratocytes from pluripotent human embryonic stem (hES) cells would help elucidate the keratocyte developmental pathway and also open a potential for ES cell-based therapies. The purpose of this study was to identify culture conditions that induce characteristic keratocyte gene expression patterns in pluripotent human ES cells. Methods: hES cell line H1 was induced to neural differentiation via co-culture with PA6 fibroblast cells. Expression of NC-specific genes was followed by qRT-PCR and a sub-population of ES derived cells expressing LNGFR (CD271, p75) was isolated with magnetic sorting. LNGFR+ cells were expanded in growth media reported to induce mesenchymal or neural differentiation, and then cultured as substratum-independent pellet cultures to induce keratocyte phenotype. The resultant cells were analyzed for keratocyte gene expression using quantitative RT-PCR analysis. Results: hES cells co-cultured with PA6 fibroblasts undergo a rapid transient expression of genes associated with NC cells including SNAIL, NTRK3, SOX9, MSX1. Up to 33% of these cells expressed LNGFR and HNK-1 by flow cytometry at 6 days. Cells selected for LNGFR surface expression continued expression of NC genes and were free of feeder cells. LNGFR+ cells expanded in alpha MEM+FBS or in serum-free media with N2 supplement both expressed genes found in stromal progenitor cells (ABCG2, BMI1, KIT, PAX6, Nestin, NOTCH1, SIX2). In pellet culture, conditions favoring keratocyte differentiation, the cells expressed elevated keratocyte-specific markers including KERA, AQP1, B3GnT7, PTDGS, and ALDH. Expression of keratocan, a keratocyte-specific proteoglycan, was increased >10,000 fold. Markers of adult corneal stem cells PAX6, nestin, notch1, BMI1 and cKit, were decreased in the pellet-cultured cells. Conclusions: hES cells can be induced to differentiate into cells that express keratocyte-specific markers in vitro. Pluripotent hES cells therefore may provide a potential renewable source of tissue for the surgical treatment of severe corneal opacities.
    Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 01/2011;
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    ABSTRACT: TGFβ induces fibrosis in healing corneal wounds, and in vitro corneal keratocytes up-regulate expression of several fibrosis-related genes in response to TGFβ. Hyaluronan (HA) accumulates in healing corneas, and HA synthesis is induced by TGFβ by up-regulation of HA synthase 2. This study tested the hypothesis that HA acts as an extracellular messenger, enhancing specific fibrotic responses of keratocytes to TGFβ. HA synthesis inhibitor 4-methylumbelliferone (4MU) blocked TGFβ induction of HA synthesis in a concentration-dependent manner. 4MU also inhibited TGFβ-induced up-regulation of α-smooth muscle actin, collagen type III, and extra domain A-fibronectin. Chemical analogs of 4MU also inhibited fibrogenic responses in proportion to their inhibition of HA synthesis. 4MU, however, showed no effect on TGFβ induction of luciferase by the 3TP-Lux reporter plasmid. Inhibition of HA using siRNA to HA synthase 2 reduced TGFβ up-regulation of smooth muscle actin, fibronectin, and cell division. Similarly, brief treatment of keratocytes with hyaluronidase reduced TGFβ responses. These results suggest that newly synthesized cell-associated HA acts as an extracellular enhancer of wound healing and fibrosis in keratocytes by augmenting a limited subset of the cellular responses to TGFβ.
    Journal of Biological Chemistry 10/2010; 285(42):32012-9. · 4.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Adipose-derived stem cells (ADSC) are an abundant population of adult stem cells with the potential to differentiate into several specialized tissue types, including neural and neural crest-derived cells. This study sought to determine if ADSC express keratocyte-specific phenotypic markers when cultured under conditions inducing differentiation of corneal stromal stem cells to keratocytes. Human subcutaneous adipose tissue was obtained by lipoaspiration. ADSC were isolated by collagenase digestion and differential centrifugation. Side population cells in ADSC were demonstrated using fluorescence-activated cell sorting after staining with Hoechst 33342. Differentiation to keratocyte phenotype was induced in fibrin gels or as pellet cultures with serum-free or reduced-serum media containing ascorbate. Keratocyte-specific gene expression was characterized using western blotting, quantitative RT-PCR, and immunostaining. ADSC contained a side population and exhibited differentiation to adipocytes and chondrocytes indicating adult stem-cell potential. Culture of ADSC in fibrin gels or as pellets in reduced-serum medium with ascorbate and insulin induced expression of keratocan, keratan sulfate, and aldehyde dehydrogenase 3 family, member A1 (ALDH3A1), products highly expressed by differentiated keratocytes. Expression of differentiation markers was quantitatively similar to corneal stromal stem cells and occurred in both serum-free and serum containing media. ADSC cultured under keratocyte-differentiation conditions express corneal-specific matrix components. Expression of these unique keratocyte products suggests that ADSC can adopt a keratocyte phenotype and therefore have potential for use in corneal cell therapy and tissue engineering.
    Molecular vision 01/2010; 16:2680-9. · 1.99 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Keratocan is one of the three major keratan sulfate proteoglycans characteristically expressed in cornea. We have isolated cDNA and genomic clones and determined the sequence of the entire human keratocan (Kera) gene. The gene is spread over 7.65 kb of DNA and contains three exons. An open reading frame starting at the beginning of the second exon encodes a protein of 352 aa. The amino acid sequence of keratocan shows high identity among mammalian species. This evolutionary conservation between the keratocan proteins as well as the restricted expression of Kera gene in cornea suggests that this molecule might be important in developing and maintaining corneal transparency.
    DNA Sequence 07/2009; 10(1):67-74. · 0.75 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Corneal scarring from trauma and inflammation disrupts vision for millions worldwide, but corneal transplantation, the primary therapy for corneal blindness, is unavailable to many affected individuals. In this study, stem cells isolated from adult human corneal stroma were examined for the ability to correct stromal opacity in a murine model by direct injection of cells into the corneal stroma. In wild-type mice, injected human stem cells remained viable for months without fusing with host cells or eliciting an immune T-cell response. Human corneal-specific extracellular matrix, including the proteoglycans lumican and keratocan, accumulated in the treated corneas. Lumican-null mice have corneal opacity similar to that of scar tissue as a result of disruption of stromal collagen organization. After injection with human stromal stem cells, stromal thickness and collagen fibril defects in these mice were restored to that of normal mice. Corneal transparency in the treated mice was indistinguishable from that of wild-type mice. These results support the immune privilege of adult stem cells and the ability of stem cell therapy to regenerate tissue in a manner analogous to organogenesis and clearly different from that of normal wound healing. The results suggest that cell-based therapy can be an effective approach to treatment of human corneal blindness.
    Stem Cells 05/2009; 27(7):1635-42. · 7.70 Impact Factor
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    Martha L Funderburgh, Mary M Mann, James L Funderburgh
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    ABSTRACT: Keratocytes, mesenchymal cells populating the corneal stroma, secrete the unique transparent connective tissue of the cornea as well as opaque scar tissue after injury. Previous studies identified factors mediating keratocyte phenotype in vitro, particularly the expression of the keratan sulfate proteoglycans, which are essential for vision. Whereas earlier work emphasized effects of cytokines, the current study examines the effects of substratum attachment on keratocyte phenotype. Primary keratocytes from collagenase digestion of bovine corneas were cultured on tissue-culture plastic or on poly (2-hydroxyethylmethacrylate)(polyHEMA)-coated, non-adhesive surfaces. Secreted proteoglycans from culture media and cell-associated proteins were characterized using western blotting or isotopic labeling. Gene expression was characterized with quantitative reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR). Secreted matrix was examined with immunostaining. We observed that virtually all primary keratocytes participate in the formation of spheroidal aggregates, remaining viable for at least four weeks in vitro. Spheroid keratocytes secrete more keratan sulfate and keratocan than attached cells in the same culture medium. In spheroids, keratocytes accumulate substantial matrix in intercellular spaces, including keratan sulfate, lumican, keratocan, and collagens V and VI. The unattached cells undergo limited cell division and do not differentiate into myofibroblasts in response to transforming growth factor beta (TGFbeta), which is based on the expression of extra domain A (EDA) fibronectin and alpha-smooth muscle actin. Similarly, the platelet derived growth factor, a cytokine initiating the fibroblastic phenotype in attached keratocytes, had a limited effect on the spheroid-associated keratocytes. Ascorbate-2-phosphate was the only agent stimulating keratan sulfate secretion in the spheroid keratocytes. These results provide a new paradigm for understanding signals that regulate extracellular matrix secretion. For primary keratocytes, the alteration of the cellular environment in terms of cell-cell and cell-matrix interactions mediates and can override signals from soluble cytokines in influencing matrix expression and also in adopting other aspects of the fibroblastic and myofibroblastic phenotypes found in healing wounds.
    Molecular vision 02/2008; 14:308-17. · 1.99 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: To investigate the potential of human corneal stromal stem cells to assume a keratocyte phenotype and to organize extracellular matrix (ECM) in vitro similar to corneal stromal tissue. Human corneal stromal stem cells (hCSSC) were isolated as side population cells by flow cytometry. Cloned hCSSC were cultured as free-floating pellets in serum-free media for 3 weeks. Gene expression was examined using gene array, quantitative RT-PCR, immunostaining, and immunoblotting. Transmission electron microscopy showed collagen fibril size and alignment. Pellet cultures of hCSSC in serum-free media upregulated the expression of keratocyte-specific genes and secreted substantial ECM containing characteristic stromal components: keratocan, keratan sulfate, collagen I, collagen V, and collagen VI. Abundant connexin 43 and cadherin 11 in pellets demonstrated cell-cell junctions typical of keratocytes in vivo. Electron microscopy of the pellet cultures revealed abundant fibrillar collagen, some of which was aligned in parallel arrays similar to those of stromal lamellae. Gene array identified expression in pellets of several genes highly expressed by keratocytes. Transcripts for these keratocyte genes -- FLJ30046, KERA, ALDH3A1, CXADR, PTGDS, PDK4, MTAC2D1, F13A1 -- were increased by as much as 100-fold in pellets compared with hCSSC. Simultaneously, expression of stem cell genes BMI1, KIT, NOTCH1, SIX2, PAX6, ABCG2, SPAG10, and OSIL was reduced by a similar factor in pellets compared with hCSSC. Scaffolding-free pellet culture of hCSSC induces keratocyte gene expression patterns in these cells and secretion of an organized stroma-like ECM. These cells offer a novel potential for corneal bioengineering.
    Investigative Ophthalmology &amp Visual Science 12/2007; 48(11):5038-45. · 3.44 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Keratocytes of the corneal stroma produce transparent extracellular matrix devoid of hyaluronan (HA); however, in corneal pathologies and wounds, HA is abundant. We previously showed primary keratocytes cultured under serum-free conditions to secrete matrix similar to that of normal stroma, but serum and transforming growth factor beta (TGFbeta) induced secretion of fibrotic matrix components, including HA. This study found HA secretion by primary bovine keratocytes to increase rapidly in response to TGFbeta, reaching a maximum in 12 h and then decreasing to <5% of the maximum by 48 h. Cell-free biosynthesis of HA by cell extracts also exhibited a transient peak at 12 h after TGFbeta treatment. mRNA for hyaluronan synthase enzymes HAS1 and HAS2 increased >10- and >50-fold, respectively, in 4-6 h, decreasing to near original levels after 24-48 h. Small interfering RNA against HAS2 inhibited the transient increase of HAS2 mRNA and completely blocked HA induction, but small interfering RNA to HAS1 had no effect on HA secretion. HAS2 mRNA was induced by a variety of mitogens, and TGFbeta acted synergistically to induce HAS2 by as much as 150-fold. In addition to HA synthesis, treatment with TGFbeta induced degradation of fluorescein-HA added to culture medium. These results show HA secretion by keratocytes to be initiated by a rapid transient increase in the HAS2 mRNA pool. The very rapid induction of HA expression in keratocytes suggests a functional role of this molecule in the fibrotic response of keratocytes to wound healing.
    Journal of Biological Chemistry 04/2007; 282(17):12475-83. · 4.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Keratocytes of the corneal stroma secrete a specialized extracellular matrix essential for vision. These quiescent cells exhibit limited capacity for self-renewal and after cell division become fibroblastic, secreting nontransparent tissue. This study sought to identify progenitor cells for human keratocytes. Near the corneal limbus, stromal cells expressed ABCG2, a protein present in many adult stem cells. The ABCG2-expressing cell population was isolated as a side population (SP) by cell sorting after exposure to Hoechst 33342 dye. The SP cells exhibited clonal growth and continued to express ABCG2 and also PAX6, product of a homeobox gene not expressed in adult keratocytes. Cloned SP cells cultured in medium with fibroblast growth factor-2 lost ABCG2 and PAX6 expression and upregulated several molecular markers of keratocytes, including keratocan, aldehyde dehydrogenase 3A1, and keratan sulfate. Cloned corneal SP cells under chondrogenic conditions produced matrix staining with toluidine blue and expressed cartilage-specific markers: collagen II, cartilage oligomatrix protein, and aggrecan. Exposure of cloned SP cells to neurogenic culture medium upregulated mRNA and protein for glial fibrillary acidic protein, neurofilament protein, and beta-tubulin II. These results demonstrate the presence of a population of cells in the human corneal stroma expressing stem cell markers and exhibiting multipotent differentiation potential. These appear to be the first human cells identified with keratocyte progenitor potential. Further analysis of these cells will aid elucidation of molecular mechanisms of corneal development, differentiation, and wound healing. These cells may be a resource for bioengineering of corneal stroma and for cell-based therapeutics.
    Stem Cells 11/2005; 23(9):1266-75. · 7.70 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Keratocytes of the corneal stroma produce a transparent extracellular matrix required for vision. During wound-healing and in vitro, keratocytes proliferate, becoming fibroblastic, and lose biosynthesis of unique corneal matrix components. This study sought identification of cells in the corneal stroma capable of assuming a keratocyte phenotype after extensive proliferation. About 3% of freshly isolated bovine stromal cells exhibited clonal growth. In low-mitogen media, selected clonal cultures displayed dendritic morphology and expressed high levels of keratan sulfate, aldehyde dehydrogenase 3A1, and keratocan, molecular markers of keratocyte phenotype. In protein-free media, both primary keratocytes and selected clonal cells aggregated to form attachment-independent spheroids expressing elevated levels of those marker molecules. The selected clonal cells exhibited normal karyotype and underwent replicative senescence after 65-70 population doublings; however, they continued expression of keratocyte phenotypic markers throughout their replicative life span. The progenitor cells expressed elevated mRNA for several genes characteristic of stem cells and also for genes expressed during ocular development PAX6, Six2, and Six3. PAX6 protein was detected in the cultured progenitor cells and a small number of stromal cells in intact tissue but was absent in cultured keratocytes and fibroblasts. Cytometry demonstrated PAX6 protein in 4% of freshly isolated stromal cells. These results demonstrate the presence of a previously unrecognized population of PAX6-positive cells in adult corneal stroma that maintain the potential to assume a keratocyte phenotype even after extensive replication. The presence of such progenitor cells has implications for corneal biology and for cell-based therapies targeting corneal scarring.
    The FASEB Journal 09/2005; 19(10):1371-3. · 5.70 Impact Factor
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    James L Funderburgh, Mary M Mann, Martha L Funderburgh
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    ABSTRACT: In pathological corneas, accumulation of fibrotic extracellular matrix is characterized by proteoglycans with altered glycosaminoglycans that contribute to the reduced transparency of scarred tissue. During wound healing, keratocytes in the corneal stroma transdifferentiate into fibroblasts and myofibroblasts. In this study, molecular markers were developed to identify keratocyte, fibroblast, and myofibroblast phenotypes in primary cultures of corneal stromal cells and the structure of glycosaminoglycans secreted by these cells was characterized. Quiescent primary keratocytes expressed abundant protein and mRNA for keratocan and aldehyde dehydrogenase class 3 and secreted proteoglycans containing macromolecular keratan sulfate. Expression of these marker compounds was reduced in fibroblasts and also in transforming growth factor-beta-induced myofibroblasts, which expressed high levels of alpha-smooth muscle actin, biglycan, and the extra domain A (EDA or EIIIA) form of cellular fibronectin. Collagen types I and III mRNAs were elevated in both fibroblasts and in myofibroblasts. Expression of these molecular markers clearly distinguishes the phenotypic states of stromal cells in vitro. Glycosaminoglycans secreted by fibroblasts and myofibroblasts were qualitatively similar to and differed from those of keratocytes. Chondroitin/dermatan sulfate abundance, chain length, and sulfation were increased as keratocytes became fibroblasts and myofibroblasts. Fluorophore-assisted carbohydrate electrophoresis analysis demonstrated increased N-acetylgalactosamine sulfation at both 4- and 6-carbons. Hyaluronan, absent in keratocytes, was secreted by fibroblasts and myofibroblasts. Keratan sulfate biosynthesis, chain length, and sulfation were significantly reduced in both fibroblasts and myofibroblasts. The qualitatively similar expression of glycosaminoglycans shared by fibroblasts and myofibroblasts suggests a role for fibroblasts in deposition of non-transparent fibrotic tissue in pathological corneas.
    Journal of Biological Chemistry 12/2003; 278(46):45629-37. · 4.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Keratocytes of the corneal stroma secrete a unique population of proteoglycan molecules considered essential for corneal transparency. In healing corneal wounds, keratocytes exhibit a myofibroblastic phenotype in response to transforming growth factor beta (TGF-beta), characterized by expression of alpha-smooth muscle actin. This study examined proteoglycan and collagen expression by keratocytes in vitro during the TGF-beta-induced keratocyte-myofibroblast transition. TGF-beta-treated primary bovine keratocytes developed myofibroblastic features, including actin stress fibers anchored to paxillin-containing focal adhesions, cell-associated fibronectin, alpha(5) integrin, and alpha-smooth muscle actin. Collagen I and III protein and mRNA increased in response to TGF-beta. Secretion of [(35)S]sulfate-labeled keratan sulfate proteoglycans decreased markedly in response to TGF-beta. Dermatan sulfate proteoglycans, however, increased in size and abundance. Protein and mRNA transcripts for normal stromal proteoglycans (lumican, keratocan, mimecan, and decorin) all decreased in response to TGF-beta, but protein expression and mRNA for biglycan, a proteoglycan present in fibrotic tissue, was markedly up-regulated. These results show that TGF-beta in vitro induces a proteoglycan expression pattern similar to that of corneal scars in vivo. This altered proteoglycan expression occurred coordinately with transdifferentiation of keratocytes to the myofibroblastic phenotype, implicating these cells as the source of fibrotic tissue in nontransparent corneal scars.
    Journal of Biological Chemistry 12/2001; 276(47):44173-8. · 4.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Keratocytes of the corneal stroma produce a specialized extracellular matrix responsible for corneal transparency. Corneal keratan sulfate proteoglycans (KSPG) are unique products of keratocytes that are down-regulated in corneal wounds and in vitro. This study used cultures of primary bovine keratocytes to define factors affecting KSPG expression in vitro. KSPG metabolically labeled with [(35)S]sulfate decreased during the initial 2-4 days of culture in quiescent cultures with low serum concentrations (0.1%). Addition of fetal bovine serum, fibroblast growth factor-2 (FGF-2), transforming growth factor beta, or platelet derived growth factor all stimulated cell division, but only FGF-2 stimulated KSPG secretion. Combined with serum, FGF-2 also prevented serum-induced KSPG down-regulation. KSPG secretion was lost during serial subculture with or without FGF-2. Expression of KSPG core proteins (lumican, mimecan, and keratocan) was stimulated by FGF-2, and steady state mRNA pools for these proteins, particularly keratocan, were significantly increased by FGF-2 treatment. KSPG expression therefore is supported by exogenous FGF-2 and eliminated by subculture of the cells in presence of serum. FGF-2 stimulates KSPG core protein expression primarily through an increase in mRNA pools.
    Journal of Biological Chemistry 06/2000; 275(18):13918-23. · 4.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Mimecan is a proteoglycan expressed by many connective tissues. It was originally isolated in a truncated form as a bone-associated glycoprotein, osteoglycin, and was considered an osteoinductive factor. Recently, we demonstrated that the full-length translation product of the cDNA encoding mimecan is a corneal keratan sulfate proteoglycan present in other tissues without keratan sulfate chains. We also described multiple mimecan mRNA transcripts generated by differential splicing and alternative polyadenylation. In this study, we isolated genomic clones and determined the genomic organization of the bovine mimecan gene. The gene is spread over >33 kilobases of continuous DNA sequence and contains eight exons. The newly discovered first exon, identified by 5'-rapid amplification of cDNA ends, consists of a 5'-untranslated region and is enriched in C+G nucleotides. Two transcription initiation sites starting at the first and at the second exons were determined by primer extension. Molecular characterization shows that alternatively spliced RNA isoforms are generated by the use of two distinct splice acceptor sites in the third exon situated 278 base pairs apart. We determined a partial genomic structure of the human mimecan gene and demonstrated two alternatively spliced RNA transcripts that are generated likewise. Despite the diversity of mimecan transcripts, the primary structure of the core protein is encoded from exons 3 to 8 and remains unchanged, indicating its functional importance. Using ribonuclease protection assay, we analyzed the patterns of spliced RNA expressed in cultured bovine keratocytes. We demonstrated that their expression is differentially modulated in a temporal manner by basic fibroblast growth factor.
    Journal of Biological Chemistry 06/1999; 274(26):18693-701. · 4.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Corneas with scars and certain chronic pathologic conditions contain highly sulfated dermatan sulfate, but little is known of the core proteins that carry these atypical glycosaminoglycans. In this study the proteoglycan proteins attached to dermatan sulfate in normal and pathologic human corneas were examined to identify primary genes involved in the pathobiology of corneal scarring. Proteoglycans from human corneas with chronic edema, bullous keratopathy, and keratoconus and from normal corneas were analyzed using sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE), quantitative immunoblotting, and immunohistology with peptide antibodies to decorin and biglycan. Proteoglycans from pathologic corneas exhibit increased size heterogeneity and binding of the cationic dye alcian blue compared with those in normal corneas. Decorin and biglycan extracted from normal and diseased corneas exhibited similar molecular size distribution patterns. In approximately half of the pathologic corneas, the level of biglycan was elevated an average of seven times above normal, and decorin was elevated approximately three times above normal. The increases were associated with highly charged molecular forms of decorin and biglycan, indicating modification of the proteins with dermatan sulfate chains of increased sulfation. Immunostaining of corneal sections showed an abnormal stromal localization of biglycan in pathologic corneas. The increased dermatan sulfate associated with chronic corneal pathologic conditions results from stromal accumulation of decorin and particularly of biglycan in the affected corneas. These proteins bear dermatan sulfate chains with increased sulfation compared with normal stromal proteoglycans.
    Investigative Ophthalmology &amp Visual Science 10/1998; 39(10):1957-64. · 3.44 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Bovine cornea contains three unique keratan sulfate proteoglycans (KSPGs), of which two (lumican and keratocan) have been characterized using molecular cloning. The gene for the third protein (KSPG25) has not been identified. This study examined the relationship between the KSPG25 protein and the gene for osteoglycin, a 12-kDa bone glycoprotein. The N-terminal amino acid sequence of KSPG25 occurs in osteoglycin cDNA cloned from bovine cornea. The osteoglycin amino acid sequence makes up the C-terminal 47% of the deduced sequence of the KSPG25 protein. Antibodies to osteoglycin reacted with intact corneal KSPG, with KSPG25 protein, and with a 36-kDa protein, distinct from lumican and keratocan. KSPG25-related proteins, not modified with keratan sulfate, were also detected in several connective tissues. Northern blot analysis showed mRNA transcripts of 2.4, 2.5, and 2.6 kilobases in numerous tissues with the 2.4-kilobase transcript enriched in ocular tissues. Ribonuclease protection analysis detected several protected KSPG25 mRNA fragments, suggesting alternate splicing of KSPG25 transcripts. We conclude that the full-length translation product of the gene producing osteoglycin is a corneal keratan sulfate proteoglycan, also present in many non-corneal tissues without keratan sulfate chains. The multiple size protein products of this gene appear to result from in situ proteolytic processing and/or alternative splicing of mRNA. The name mimecan is proposed for this gene and its products.
    Journal of Biological Chemistry 11/1997; 272(44):28089-95. · 4.65 Impact Factor