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This study explores the molecular mechanisms that regulate the recycling of chromophore required for pigment regeneration in mammalian cones. We report that two chromophore binding proteins, retinol dehydrogenase 8 (RDH8) and photoreceptor-specific ATP-binding cassette transporter (ABCA4) accelerate the dark adaptation of cones, first, directly, by facilitating the processing of chromophore in cones, and second, indirectly, by accelerating the turnover of chromophore in rods, which is then recycled and delivered to both rods and cones. Preventing competition with the rods by knocking out rhodopsin accelerated cone dark adaptation, demonstrating the interplay between rod and cone pigment regeneration driven by the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE). This novel interdependence of rod and cone pigment regeneration should be considered when developing therapies targeting the recycling of chromophore for rods, and evaluating residual cone function should be a critical test for such regimens targeting the RPE.
Rapid recycling of visual chromophore and regeneration of the visual pigment are critical for the continuous function of mammalian cone photoreceptors in daylight vision. However, the molecular mechanisms modulating the supply of visual chromophore to cones have remained unclear. Here we explored the roles of two chromophore-binding proteins, retinol dehydrogenase 8 (RDH8) and photoreceptor-specific ATP-binding cassette transporter 4 (ABCA4), in dark adaptation of mammalian cones. We report that young adult RDH8/ABCA4-deficient mice have normal M-cone morphology but reduced visual acuity and photoresponse amplitudes. Notably, the deletion of RDH8 and ABCA4 suppressed the dark adaptation of M-cones driven by both the intraretinal visual cycle and the retinal pigmented epithelium (RPE) visual cycle. This delay can be caused by two separate mechanisms: direct involvement of RDH8 and ABCA4 in cone chromophore processing, and an indirect effect from the delayed recycling of chromophore by the RPE due to its slow release from RDH8/ABCA4-deficient rods. Intriguingly, our data suggest that RDH8 could also contribute to the oxidation of cis-retinoids in cones, a key reaction of the retina visual cycle. Finally, we dissected the roles of rod photoreceptors and RPE for dark adaptation of M-cones. We found that rods suppress, whereas RPE promotes, cone dark adaptation. Thus, therapeutic approaches targeting the RPE visual cycle could have adverse effects on the function of cones, making the evaluation of residual cone function a critical test for regimens targeting the RPE.
The Journal of Physiology 09/2015; 593(22). DOI:10.1113/JP271285 · 5.04 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Delivery of hydrophobic compounds to photoreceptors within the retina presents unique challenges due to the anatomy and physiology of the eye. Derivatives of vitamin A (retinoids) are essential to the function and survival of photoreceptors and in the absence of an intrinsic mechanism to metabolize these compounds (visual cycle) leads to extensive loss of photoreceptors and visual function. In this chapter, we describe a method for the sustained delivery of retinoids to young mice that lack a functioning visual cycle to promote survival of photoreceptors.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Phagocytosis and degradation of photoreceptor outer segments (POS) by retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) is fundamental to vision. Autophagy is also responsible for bulk degradation of cellular components, but its role in POS degradation is not well understood. We report that the morning burst of RPE phagocytosis coincided with the enzymatic conversion of autophagy protein LC3 to its lipidated form. LC3 associated with single-membrane phagosomes containing engulfed POS in an Atg5-dependent manner that required Beclin1, but not the autophagy preinitiation complex. The importance of this process was verified in mice with Atg5-deficient RPE cells that showed evidence of disrupted lysosomal processing. These mice also exhibited decreased photoreceptor responses to light stimuli and decreased chromophore levels that were restored with exogenous retinoid supplementation. These results establish that the interplay of phagocytosis and autophagy within the RPE is required for both POS degradation and the maintenance of retinoid levels to support vision.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The retinoid cycle is a series of biochemical reactions within the eye that is responsible for synthesizing the chromophore, 11-cis retinal, for visual function. The chromophore is bound to G-protein coupled receptors, opsins, within rod and cone photoreceptor cells forming the photosensitive visual pigments. Integral to the sustained function of photoreceptors is the continuous generation of chromophore by the retinoid cycle through two separate processes, one that supplies both rods and cones and another that exclusively supplies cones. Recent findings such as RPE65 localization within cones and the pattern of distribution of retinoid metabolites within mouse and human retinas have challenged previous proposed schemes. This review will focus on recent findings regarding the transport of retinoids, the mechanisms by which chromophore is supplied to both rods and cones, and the metabolism of retinoids within the posterior segment of the eye.
Progress in Retinal and Eye Research 10/2012; 32(1). DOI:10.1016/j.preteyeres.2012.09.002 · 8.73 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Lipofuscin is a fluorescent material with significant phototoxic potential that accumulates with age in the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) of the eye. It is thought to be a factor in retinal degeneration diseases. The most extensively characterized lipofuscin component, N-retinylidene-N-retinylethanolamine (A2E), has been proposed to be a byproduct of reactions involving the visual pigment chromophore. To examine the impact of the visual pigment and photoreceptor cell type on lipofuscin accumulation, we analyzed the RPE from Nrl(-/-) mice of various ages for lipofuscin fluorescence and A2E levels. The photoreceptor cells of the Nrl(-/-) retina contain only cone-like pigments, and produce cone-like responses to photostimulation. The cone-like nature of these cells was confirmed by the presence of RPE65. Lipofuscin was measured with fluorescence imaging, whereas A2E was quantified by UV/VIS absorbance spectroscopy coupled to HPLC. The identity of A2E was corroborated with tandem mass spectrometry. Lipofuscin and A2E accumulated with age, albeit to lower levels compared with wild type mice. The emission spectra of RPE lipofuscin granules from Nrl(-/-) mice were similar to those from wild type mice, with λ(max) ca 610 nm. These results demonstrate that cone visual pigments can contribute to the production of lipofuscin and A2E.
Photochemistry and Photobiology 03/2012; 88(6). DOI:10.1111/j.1751-1097.2012.01127.x · 2.27 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: RPE65 is an abundantly expressed protein within the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) of the eye that is required for retinoid metabolism to support vision. Its genetic mutations are linked to the congenital disease Leber congenital amaurosis Type 2 (LCA2) characterized by the early onset of central vision loss. Current gene therapy trials have targeted restoration of functional RPE65 within the RPE of these patients with some success. Recent data show that RPE65 is also present within mouse cones to promote function. In this study, we evaluated the presence of RPE65 in human cones and investigated its potential mechanism for supporting cone function in the 661W cone cell line. We found that RPE65 was selectively expressed in human green/red cones but absent from blue cones and mediated ester hydrolysis for photopigment synthesis in vitro. These data suggest that cone RPE65 supports human diurnal vision, potentially enhancing our strategies for treating LCA2.
The Journal of Neuroscience : The Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience 12/2011; 31(50):18618-26. DOI:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4265-11.2011 · 6.34 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The two most commonly used in vitro models of the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) are fetal human RPE (fhRPE) and ARPE-19 cells; however, studies of their barrier properties have produced contradictory results. To compare their utility as RPE models, their morphologic and functional characteristics were analyzed.
Monolayers of both cell types were grown on permeable membrane filters. Barrier function and cellular morphology were assessed by transepithelial resistance (TER) measurements and immunohistochemistry. Protein expression was evaluated by immunoblotting and ELISA assays, and retinoid metabolism characterized by HPLC.
Both cultures developed tight junctions. However, only the fhRPE cells were pigmented, uniform in size and shape, expressed high levels of RPE markers, metabolized all-trans retinal, and developed high TER (>400 Ωcm(2)). The net secretion of pigment-epithelium-derived factor (PEDF) was directed apically in both cultures, but fhRPE cells exhibited secretion rates a thousand-fold greater than in ARPE-19 cells. The net secretion of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) was significantly higher in fhRPE cultures and the direction of this secretion was basolateral; while net secretion was apical in ARPE-19 cells. In fresh media, VEGF-E reduced TER in both cultures; however, in conditioned media fhRPE cells did not respond to VEGF-E administration, but retreatment of the conditioned media with anti-PEDF antibodies allowed fhRPE cells to fully respond to VEGF-E.
Properties of fhRPE cells align with a functionally normal RPE in vivo, while ARPE-19 cells resemble a pathologic or aged RPE. These results suggest a utility for both cell types in understanding distinct, particular aspects of RPE function.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: As cone photoreceptors mediate vision in bright light, their photopigments are bleached at a rapid rate and require substantial recycling of the chromophore 11-cis-retinal (RAL) for continued function. The retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) supplies 11-cis-RAL to both rod and cone photoreceptors; however, stringent demands imposed by the function of cones in bright light exceed the output from this source. Recent evidence has suggested that cones may be able to satisfy this demand through privileged access to an additional source of chromophore located within the inner retina. In this study, we demonstrate that the protein RPE65, previously identified in RPE as the isomerohydrolase of the RPE-retinal visual cycle, is found within cones of the rod-dominant mouse retina, and the level of RPE65 in cones is inversely related to the level in the RPE. The light sensitivity of cone ERGs of BALB/c mice, which had an undetectable level of cone RPE65, was enhanced by approximately threefold with administration of exogenous chromophore, indicating that the cones of these animals are chromophore deficient. This enhancement with chromophore administration was not observed in C57BL/6 mice, whose cones contain RPE65. These results demonstrate that RPE65 within cones may be essential for the efficient regeneration of cone photopigments under bright-light conditions.
The Journal of Neuroscience : The Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience 07/2011; 31(28):10403-11. DOI:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0182-11.2011 · 6.34 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Rapid regeneration of the visual pigment following its photoactivation is critical for the function of cone photoreceptors throughout the day. Though the reactions of the visual cycle in the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) that recycle chromophore for rod pigment regeneration are well characterized, the corresponding mechanisms that enable rapid regeneration of cone pigment are poorly understood. A key remaining question is the relative contribution of the recently discovered cone-specific retina visual cycle and the classic RPE-dependent visual cycle to mammalian cone pigment regeneration. In addition, it is not clear what role, if any, the abundant interphotoreceptor retinoid-binding protein (IRBP) presumed to facilitate the traffic of chromophore, plays in accelerating mammalian cone pigment regeneration. To address these issues, we used transretinal recordings to evaluate M/L-cone pigment regeneration in isolated retinas and eyecups from control and IRBP-deficient mice. Remarkably, the mouse retina promoted M/L-cone dark adaptation eightfold faster than the RPE. However, complete cone recovery required both visual cycles. We conclude that the retina visual cycle is critical for the initial rapid regeneration of mouse M/L-cone pigment during dark adaptation, whereas the slower RPE visual cycle is required to complete the process. While the deletion of IRBP reduced the amplitude and slowed the kinetics of mouse M/L-cone photoresponses, cone adaptation in bright, steady light and the kinetics of cone dark adaptation were not affected in isolated retina or in intact eyecup. Thus, IRBP does not accelerate cone pigment regeneration and is not critical for the function of mouse M/L-cones in bright light.
The Journal of Neuroscience : The Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience 05/2011; 31(21):7900-9. DOI:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0438-11.2011 · 6.34 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Delivery of hydrophobic compounds to the retina/RPE has been challenging. The purpose of this study was to develop an effective method for the sustained delivery of retinoids to rod and cone photoreceptors of young mice lacking a normal supply of 11-cis retinal.
Solubilized basement membrane matrix (Matrigel; BD Biosciences, San Jose, CA) loaded with 9-cis retinal was administered subcutaneously into Rpe65(-/-) mouse pups for assessment of delivery to rods and cones and to Rpe65(-/-)Rho(-/-) mouse pups for assessment of delivery to cones. Intraperitoneal injections of 9-cis retinal were used for comparison. Cone density and opsin localization were evaluated with immunohistochemistry. Cone opsin protein levels were assayed with immunoblots, and cone function was analyzed by electroretinography (ERG) recordings. Retinoid content was determined by high-performance liquid chromatography analysis of retinal extracts. Pigment levels were quantified in homogenized retinas by absorption spectroscopy before and after light exposure.
Single administration of Matrigel loaded with 9-cis retinal to Rpe65(-/-) mice increased cone densities in all analyzed regions of the retina compared with mice treated using intraperitoneal delivery. Cone opsin levels increased to near wild-type levels. Similar treatment in Rpe65(-/-)Rho(-/-) mice increased b-wave ERG amplitudes significantly, indicating the maintenance of cone function. Matrigel was shown to continuously release 9-cis retinal for periods up to 1 week.
As a method for sustained drug delivery, subcutaneous administration using Matrigel proved more efficacious than intraperitoneal injection for in vivo delivery of retinoids to cone photoreceptors. These experiments are the first to show a sustained delivery of retinoids in mice and suggest a strategy for potential clinical therapeutic development.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Polymorphisms in factor H (fH), an inhibitor of the alternative pathway (AP) of complement activation, are associated with increased risk for age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The authors investigated the therapeutic use of a novel recombinant form of fH, CR2-fH, which is targeted to sites of complement activation, in mouse choroidal neovascularization (CNV). CR2-fH consists of the N terminus of mouse fH, which contains the AP-inhibitory domain, linked to a complement receptor 2 (CR2) targeting fragment that binds complement activation products.
Laser-induced CNV was analyzed in factor-B-deficient mice or in mice treated with CR2-fH, soluble CR2 (targeting domain), or PBS. CNV progression was analyzed by molecular, histologic, and electrophysiological readouts.
Intravenously administered CR2-fH reduced CNV size, preserved retina function, and abrogated the injury-associated expression of C3 and VEGF mRNA. CR2 and PBS treatment was without effect. In therapeutically relevant paradigms involving delayed treatment after injury, CR2-fH was effective in reducing CNV and provided approximately 60% of the amount of protection of that seen in factor B-deficient mice that lacked functional AP. After intravenous injection, CR2-fH localized to sites of C3 deposition in RPE-choroid.
Specific inhibition of the AP reduces angiogenesis in mouse CNV. Of note, intravenous injection of C3d-targeted CR2-fH is protective even though endogenous fH is present in serum at a higher relative concentration, and serum fH contains native C3d and cell surface binding domains that target it to cell surfaces. The most common AMD-associated variant of fH resides within a native cell-binding region of fH (Tyr402His). These data may open new avenues for AMD treatment strategies.