[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: eLife digest
The inner surface of the vertebrate eye is lined with a multilayered structure known as the retina. The bottom layer of the retina is composed of rods and cones—neurons that are directly sensitive to light—and is called the photoreceptor layer. Rods function primarily in dim light and provide black-and-white vision, while cones support daytime vision and are responsible for colour perception. Unlike the upper layers of the retina, the photoreceptor layer does not contain blood vessels: oxygen and nutrients are instead provided by a structure just underneath the retina called the choroid.
The eye relies on the rods and cones converting light into electrical signals, and the photoreceptor layer must remain free of blood vessels for this process to work properly. If blood vessels extend into the photoreceptor layer from rest of the retina (which is above it) or the choroid (below), they can disrupt the retina and give rise to a condition called age-related macular degeneration, which is a leading cause of irreversible blindness in adults.
Within the eye, the development of new blood vessels from pre-existing vessels is stimulated by a protein known as vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGF-A), while an inhibitor protein called sFLT-1 prevents the growth of new blood vessels in the other tissues of the eye like the cornea. However, it has not been clear what keeps the photoreceptor layer (and also the cells that support the photoreceptor layer) free of blood vessels, and what happens to disrupt this process of vascular demarcation in age-related macular degeneration.
Now, Luo et al. reveal that cells in the photoreceptor layer produce sFLT-1, and that the levels of this protein are indeed reduced in people with age-related macular degeneration. Using genetic and pharmacological methods, they show that a reduction in sFLT-1 triggers blood vessels to grow into the photoreceptor layer from above or below. Luo et al. also report two new genetic mouse models in which blood vessels form spontaneously in the photoreceptor layer at an early age, which should prove useful for further research into age-related macular degeneration.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Corneal transparency is a prerequisite for optimal vision and in turn relies on an absence of blood and lymphatic vessels, which is remarkable given the cornea's proximity to vascularized tissues. Membrane-bound vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 3 (VEGFR-3), with its cognate ligand vascular endothelial growth factor C (VEGF-C), is a major mediator of lymphangiogenesis. Here, we demonstrate that the cornea expresses a novel truncated isoform of this molecule, soluble VEGFR-3 (sVEGFR-3), which is critical for corneal alymphaticity, by sequestering VEGF-C. sVEGFR-3 binds and sequesters VEGF-C, thereby blocking signaling through VEGFR-3 and suppressing lymphangiogenesis induced by VEGF-C. sVEGFR-3 knockdown leads to lymphangiogenesis and hemangiogenesis in the mouse cornea, while overexpression of sVEGFR-3 inhibits lymphangiogenesis and hemangiogenesis in a murine suture injury model. Pax6(+/-) mice spontaneously develop corneal and lymphatic vessels and are deficient in sVEGFR-3. sVEGFR-3 suppresses hemangiogenesis by blocking VEGF-C-induced phosphorylation of VEGFR-2. Overexpression of sVEGFR-3 leads to a 5-fold increase in corneal transplant survival in mouse models. sVEGFR-3 holds promise as a molecule to control and regress lymphatic-vessel-based dysfunction. Therefore, sVEGFR-3 has the potential to protect the injured cornea from opacification secondary to infection, inflammation, or transplant rejection.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The KDR gene, which participates in angiogenesis and lymphangiogenesis, produces two functionally distinct protein products, membrane-bound KDR (mbKDR) and its isoform, soluble KDR (sKDR). Since sKDR does not have a tyrosine kinase domain and does not dimerize, it is principally an antagonist of lymphangiogenesis by sequestering VEGF-C. Alternative polyadenylation of exon 30 or intron 13 leads to the production of mbKDR or sKDR, respectively, yet the regulatory mechanisms are unknown. Here we show that an antisense morpholino oligomer directed against the exon 13-intron 13 junction increases sKDR (suppressing lymphangiogenesis) and decreases mbKDR (inhibiting hemangiogenesis). The latent polyadenylation site in intron 13 of KDR is activated by blocking the upstream 5' splicing site with an antisense morpholino oligomer. Intravitreal morpholino injection suppressed laser choroidal neovascularization while increasing sKDR. In the mouse cornea, subconjunctival injection of the morpholino-inhibited corneal angiogenesis and lymphangiogenesis, and suppressed graft rejection after transplantation. Thus, this morpholino can be used for concurrent suppression of hemangiogenesis and lymphangiogenesis. This study offers new insight into the mechanisms and potential therapeutic modulation of alternative polyadenylation.-Uehara, H., Cho, Y. K., Simonis, J., Cahoon, J., Archer, B., Luo, L., Das, S. K., Singh, N., Ambati, J., Ambati, B. K. Dual suppression of hemangiogenesis and lymphangiogenesis by splice-shifting morpholinos targeting vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 2 (KDR).
The FASEB Journal 09/2012; 27(1). DOI:10.1096/fj.12-213835 · 5.04 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To determine the efficacy of a plasmid containing a small hairpin RNA expression cassette (pSEC.shRNA) against VEGF-A-loaded poly(lactic co-glycolic acid) nanoparticles (PLGA NPs) in the sustained regression of murine corneal neovascularization.
PLGA nanoparticles were loaded with pSEC.shRNA.VEGF-A plasmids using the double emulsion-solvent evaporation method. KNV was induced in BALB/c mice by mechanical-alkali injury. Four weeks after induction of KNV, the mice were randomly divided to receive one of four treatments intrastromally: pSEC.shRNA.VEGF-A PLGA NPs (2 μg plasmid); naked pSEC.shRNA.VEGF-A plasmid only (2 μg plasmid); control blank PLGA NPs (equivalent dry weight of NPs); and vehicle. Two and five days after intervention, corneas were harvested to determine VEGF-A gene and protein expression using reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction and ELISA, respectively. Four weeks after intervention, corneas were photographed, mice sacrificed, and the corneal whole mounts were immunostained for CD31 (panendothelial cell marker). Immunofluorescence microscopy was performed and the neovascular area was quantitated.
VEGF-A mRNA (49.6 ± 12.4 vs. 82.9 ± 6.0%, P < 0.01) and protein (4.0 ± 5.2 vs. 20.0 ± 7.5 ρg VEGF-A/mg total protein, P < 0.05) expression were significantly reduced in pSEC.shRNA.VEGF-A PLGA NP-treated corneas as compared with control blank NP. The pSEC.shRNA.VEGF-A PLGA NP-treated corneas showed significant regression in the mean fractional areas of KNV (0.125 ± 0.042; 12.5%, P <0.01) compared with both naked plasmid only (0.283 ± 0.004; 28.3%) and control (blank NPs = 0.555 ± 0.072, 55.5%) at 4 weeks post-treatment.
The pSEC.shRNA.VEGF-A-loaded PLGA NPs are an effective, nonviral, nontoxic, and sustainable form of gene therapy for the regression of murine KNV.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To determine if nanoparticles delivering plasmids expressing Flt23k (an anti-VEGF intraceptor) can enhance murine cornea transplant survival and whether their effect is synergistic with steroid therapy.
Biodegradable PLGA Flt23k loaded or blank nanoparticles were prepared using the emulsion solvent evaporation
Graft survival, corneal neovascularization, and corneal lymphangiogenesis were compared among the Flt23k nanoparticles, blank nanoparticles, triamcinolone acetonide, and PBS groups following subconjunctival injection in mice that underwent penetrating keratoplasty. Graft survival, corneal neovascularization, and corneal lymphangiogenesis in a group treated with both nanoparticles and steroid therapy were also analyzed.
The Flt23k nanoparticle group showed less neovascularization, lymphangiogenesis, and graft failure compared with the PBS control group (P < 0.01). The 2-month graft survival rate was 20% in the Flt23k nanoparticle group with no grafts surviving in the PBS group. When the Flt23k nanoparticle was combined with steroid therapy, a significant increase in graft survival was seen compared with both steroid treatment alone (P < 0.05) and steroid combined with blank nanoparticle treatment (P < 0.05). The 2-month graft survival rate was 91.6% in the combination group compared with 47.6% in the triamcinolone-only group and 42.4% in the triamcinolone plus blank nanoparticle group.
Anti-VEGF nanoparticles (Flt23k) have a significant effect on decreasing neovascularization and lymphangiogenesis, resulting in increased graft survival in penetrating keratoplasty. This beneficial effect is synergistically enhanced with steroid treatment.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Anomalous neuritogenesis is a hallmark of neurodegenerative disorders, including retinal degenerations, epilepsy, and Alzheimer's disease. The neuritogenesis processes result in a partial reinnervation, new circuitry, and functional changes within the deafferented retina and brain regions. Using the light-induced retinal degeneration (LIRD) mouse model, which provides a unique platform for exploring the mechanisms underlying neuritogenesis, we found that retinoid X receptors (RXRs) control neuritogenesis. LIRD rapidly triggered retinal neuron neuritogenesis and up-regulated several key elements of retinoic acid (RA) signaling, including retinoid X receptors (RXRs). Exogenous RA initiated neuritogenesis in normal adult retinas and primary retinal cultures and exacerbated it in LIRD retinas. However, LIRD-induced neuritogenesis was partly attenuated in retinol dehydrogenase knockout (Rdh12(-/-)) mice and by aldehyde dehydrogenase inhibitors. We further found that LIRD rapidly increased the expression of glutamate receptor 2 and β Ca(2+)/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (βCaMKII). Pulldown assays demonstrated interaction between βCaMKII and RXRs, suggesting that CaMKII pathway regulates the activities of RXRs. RXR antagonists completely prevented and RXR agonists were more effective than RA in inducing neuritogenesis. Thus, RXRs are in the final common path and may be therapeutic targets to attenuate retinal remodeling and facilitate global intervention methods in blinding diseases and other neurodegenerative disorders.
The FASEB Journal 09/2011; 26(1):81-92. DOI:10.1096/fj.11-192914 · 5.04 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of irreversible blindness in the elderly. Wet AMD includes typical choroidal neovascularization (CNV) and polypoidal choroidal vasculopathy (PCV). The etiology and pathogenesis of CNV and PCV are not well understood. Genome-wide association studies have linked a multifunctional serine protease, HTRA1, to AMD. However, the precise role of HTRA1 in AMD remains elusive. By transgenically expressing human HTRA1 in mouse retinal pigment epithelium, we showed that increased HTRA1 induced cardinal features of PCV, including branching networks of choroidal vessels, polypoidal lesions, severe degeneration of the elastic laminae, and tunica media of choroidal vessels. In addition, HTRA1 mice displayed retinal pigment epithelium atrophy and photoreceptor degeneration. Senescent HTRA1 mice developed occult CNV, which likely resulted from the degradation of the elastic lamina of Bruch's membrane and up-regulation of VEGF. Our results indicate that increased HTRA1 is sufficient to cause PCV and is a significant risk factor for CNV.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 08/2011; 108(35):14578-83. DOI:10.1073/pnas.1102853108 · 9.67 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Whirlin is the causative gene for Usher syndrome type IID (USH2D), a condition manifested as both retinitis pigmentosa and congenital deafness. Mutations in this gene cause disruption of the USH2 protein complex composed of USH2A and VLGR1 at the periciliary membrane complex (PMC) in photoreceptors. In this study, the adeno-associated virus (AAV)-mediated whirlin replacement was evaluated as a treatment option.
Murine whirlin cDNA driven by the human rhodopsin kinase promoter (hRK) was packaged as an AAV2/5 vector and delivered into the whirlin knockout retina through subretinal injection. The efficiency, efficacy, and safety of this treatment were examined using immunofluorescent staining, confocal imaging, immunoelectron microscopy, Western blot analysis, histologic analysis, and electroretinogram.
The AAV-mediated whirlin expression started at two weeks, reached its maximum level at 10 weeks, and lasted up to six months post injection. The transgenic whirlin product had a molecular size and an expression level comparable to the wild-type. It was distributed at the PMC in both rod and cone photoreceptors from the central to peripheral retina. Importantly, the transgenic whirlin restored the cellular localization and expression level of both USH2A and VLGR1 and did not cause defects in the retinal histology and function in the whirlin knockout mouse.
Whirlin transgene recruits USH2A and VLGR1 to the PMC and is sufficient for the formation of the USH2 protein complex in photoreceptors. The combined hRK and AAV gene delivery system could be an effective gene therapy approach to treat retinal degeneration in USH2D patients.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: It is known that SPARC gates VEGF-A signal transduction towards KDR, the primary angiogenic VEGF receptor. We sought to determine whether inhibition of SPARC activity using anti-SPARC peptide could inhibit laser-induced CNV by promoting binding of VEGF-A to FLT-1. We created anti-SPARC l-peptide and retro-inverso anti-SPARC d-peptide. Anti-SPARC peptides or PBS were injected intravitreally 1day before or after laser induction. Intravitreal injection of anti-SPARC l-peptide 1day before laser induction promotes FLT-1 phosphorylation and inhibited laser-induced CNV and anti-SPARC d-peptide had no effect. Injection 1day after laser injury did not affect size of laser-induced CNV. Inhibition of SPARC activity could be complementary to existing anti-CNV therapy.
Vision research 12/2009; 50(7):674-9. DOI:10.1016/j.visres.2009.12.003 · 1.82 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Age-related macular degeneration is the most common cause of irreversible visual impairment in the developed world. Advanced age-related macular degeneration consists of geographic atrophy and choroidal neovascularization. The specific genetic variants that predispose patients to geographic atrophy are largely unknown.
We tested for an association between the functional toll-like receptor 3 gene (TLR3) variant rs3775291 (involving the substitution of phenylalanine for leucine at amino acid 412) and age-related macular degeneration in Americans of European descent. We also tested for the effect of TLR3 Leu and Phe variants on the viability of human retinal pigment epithelial cells in vitro and on apoptosis of retinal pigment epithelial cells from wild-type mice and Tlr3-knockout (Tlr3(-/-)) mice.
The Phe variant (encoded by the T allele at rs3775291) was associated with protection against geographic atrophy (P=0.005). This association was replicated in two independent case-control series of geographic atrophy (P=5.43x10(-4) and P=0.002). No association was found between TLR3 variants and choroidal neovascularization. A prototypic TLR3 ligand induced apoptosis in a greater fraction of human retinal pigment epithelial cells with the Leu-Leu genotype than those with the Leu-Phe genotype and in a greater fraction of wild-type mice than Tlr3(-/-) mice.
The TLR3 412Phe variant confers protection against geographic atrophy, probably by suppressing the death of retinal pigment epithelial cells. Since double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) can activate TLR3-mediated apoptosis, our results suggest a role of viral dsRNA in the development of geographic atrophy and point to the potential toxic effects of short-interfering-RNA therapies in the eye.
New England Journal of Medicine 09/2008; 359(14):1456-63. DOI:10.1056/NEJMoa0802437 · 55.87 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Significant morbidity and mortality among patients with diabetes mellitus result largely from a greatly increased incidence of microvascular complications. Proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR) and end stage renal disease (ESRD) are two of the most common and severe microvascular complications of diabetes. A high concordance exists in the development of PDR and ESRD in diabetic patients, as well as strong familial aggregation of these complications, suggesting a common underlying genetic mechanism. However, the precise gene(s) and genetic variant(s) involved remain largely unknown. Erythropoietin (EPO) is a potent angiogenic factor observed in the diabetic human and mouse eye. By a combination of case-control association and functional studies, we demonstrate that the T allele of SNP rs1617640 in the promoter of the EPO gene is significantly associated with PDR and ESRD in three European-American cohorts [Utah: P = 1.91 x 10(-3); Genetics of Kidneys in Diabetes (GoKinD) Study: P = 2.66 x 10(-8); and Boston: P = 2.1 x 10(-2)]. The EPO concentration in human vitreous body was 7.5-fold higher in normal subjects with the TT risk genotype than in those with the GG genotype. Computational analysis suggests that the risk allele (T) of rs1617640 creates a matrix match with the EVI1/MEL1 or AP1 binding site, accounting for an observed 25-fold enhancement of luciferase reporter expression as compared with the G allele. These results suggest that rs1617640 in the EPO promoter is significantly associated with PDR and ESRD. This study identifies a disease risk-associated gene and potential pathway mediating severe diabetic microvascular complications.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 06/2008; 105(19):6998-7003. DOI:10.1073/pnas.0800454105 · 9.67 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP), rs11200638, in the promoter of HTRA1 has recently been shown to increase the risk for AMD. In order to investigate the association of this HTRA1 polymorphism and the bilaterality of AMD, we genotyped rs11200638 in control, unilateral, and bilateral advanced AMD patients. The A allele for SNP rs11200638 in HTRA1, was significantly more prevalent in bilateral wet AMD and GA patients than in unilateral groups (p=.02 and p=.03, respectively). The homozygote odds ratios of bilateral wet AMD and GA are significantly greater than those seen in unilateral groups (twofold and threefold increase, respectively). This finding is consistent with the role of HTRA1 in AMD pathogenesis and will help aid in the clinical management and prognosis of AMD patients.
Vision Research 03/2008; 48(5):690-4. DOI:10.1016/j.visres.2007.10.014 · 1.82 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Exfoliation glaucoma (XFG) is the commonest identifiable cause of secondary open-angle glaucoma worldwide, characterized by the deposition of fibrillar proteins in the anterior segment of the eye. We investigated LOXL1 gene variants previously identified to confer susceptibility to XFG in a Utah Caucasian cohort. After a standard eye examination protocol we genotyped SNPs rs2165241and rs3825942 in 62 XFG or exfoliation syndrome (XFS) patients and 170 normal controls. Genotype frequency distribution, odds ratios (ORs) and population attributable risks were calculated for the risk alleles. The SNP rs2165241 was significantly associated with XFG and XFS (p = 4.13 x 10(-9)) for an additive model, OR(het) = 4.42 (2.30-8.50), OR(hom) = 34.19 (4.48-261.00); T allele: 83.1% in cases versus 52.4% in controls). Significant association was also found for rs3825942: (p = 1.89 x 10(-6)). Our findings confirm genetic association of LOXL1 with XFG and XFS and implicate a potential role of cross linking of elastin in the pathogenesis of XFG. This information will potentially guide glaucoma monitoring efforts by targeting individuals whose genetic profiles put them at higher risk for XFG.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We examined familial aggregation and risk of age-related macular degeneration in the Utah population using a population-based case-control study. Over one million unique patient records were searched within the University of Utah Health Sciences Center and the Utah Population Database (UPDB), identifying 4764 patients with AMD. Specialized kinship analysis software was used to test for familial aggregation of disease, estimate the magnitude of familial risks, and identify families at high risk for disease. The population-attributable risk (PAR) for AMD was calculated to be 0.34. Recurrence risks in relatives indicate increased relative risks in siblings (2.95), first cousins (1.29), second cousins (1.13), and parents (5.66) of affected cases. There were 16 extended large families with AMD identified for potential use in genetic studies. Each family had five or more living affected members. The familial aggregation of AMD shown in this study exemplifies the merit of the UPDB and supports recent research demonstrating significant genetic contribution to disease development and progression.
Vision Research 03/2008; 48(3):494-500. DOI:10.1016/j.visres.2007.11.013 · 1.82 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the most common cause of irreversible visual impairment in the developed world. The two forms of advanced AMD, geographic atrophy (GA) and choroidal neovascularization (wet AMD), represent two types of degenerative processes in the macula that lead to loss of central vision. Soft confluent drusen, characterized by deposits in macula without visual loss are considered a precursor of advanced AMD. A single nucleotide polymorphism, rs11200638, in the promoter of HTRA1 has been shown to increases the risk for wet AMD. However, its impact on soft confluent drusen and GA or the relationship between them is unclear. To better understand the role the HTRA1 polymorphism plays in AMD subtypes, we genotyped an expanded Utah population with 658 patients having advanced AMD or soft confluent drusen and 294 normal controls and found that the rs11200638 was significantly associated with GA. This association remains significant conditional on LOC387715 rs10490924. In addition, rs11200638 was significantly associated with soft confluent drusen, which are strongly immunolabeled with HTRA1 antibody in an AMD eye with GA similar to wet AMD. Two-locus analyses were performed for CFH Y402H variant at 1q31 and the HTRA1 polymorphism. Together CFH and HTRA1 risk variants increase the odds of having AMD by more than 40 times. These findings expand the role of HTRA1 in AMD. Understanding the underlying molecular mechanism will provide an important insight in pathogenesis of AMD.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Mutations in the gene ELOVL4 have been shown to cause stargardt-like macular dystrophy. ELOVL4 is part of a family of fatty acid elongases and is yet to have a specific elongase activity assigned to it. We generated Elovl4 Y270X mutant mice and characterized the homozygous mutant as well as homozygous Elovl4 knockout mice in order to better understand the function or role of Elovl4. We found that mice lacking a functional Elovl4 protein died perinatally. The cause of death appears to be from dehydration due to faulty permeability barrier formation in the skin. Further biochemical analysis revealed a significant reduction in free fatty acids longer than C26 in homozygous mutant and knockout mouse skin. These results implicate the importance of these long chain fatty acids in skin barrier development. Furthermore, we suggest that Elovl4 is likely involved in the elongation of C26 and longer fatty acids.
International journal of biological sciences 02/2007; 3(2):111-9. · 4.51 Impact Factor