[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Complete retinal regeneration in adult animals occurs only in certain urodele amphibians, in which the retinal pigmented epithelial cells (RPE) undergo transdifferentiation to produce all cell types constituting the neural retina. A similar mechanism also appears to be involved in retinal regeneration in the embryonic stage of some other species, but the nature of this mechanism has not yet been elucidated. The organ culture model of retinal regeneration is a useful experimental system and we previously reported RPE transdifferentiation of the newt under this condition. Here, we show that cultured RPE cells proliferate and differentiate into neurons when cultured with the choroid attached to the RPE, but they did not exhibit any morphological changes when cultured alone following removal of the choroid. This finding indicates that the tissue interactions between the RPE and the choroid are essential for the former to proliferate. This tissue interaction appears to be mediated by diffusible factors, because the choroid could affect RPE cells even when the two tissues were separated by a membrane filter. RPE transdifferentiation under the organotypic culture condition was abolished by a MEK (ERK kinase) inhibitor, U0126, but was partially suppressed by an FGF receptor inhibitor, SU5402, suggesting that FGF signaling pathway has a central role in the transdifferentiation. While IGF-1 alone had no effect on isolated RPE, combination of FGF-2 and IGF-1 stimulated RPE cell transdifferentiation similar to the results obtained in organ-cultured RPE and choroid. RT-PCR revealed that gene expression of both FGF-2 and IGF-1 is up-regulated following removal of the retina. Thus, we show for the first time that the choroid plays an essential role in newt retinal regeneration, opening a new avenue for understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying retinal regeneration.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Transdifferentiation from retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) to neural retina (NR) was studied under a new culture system as an experimental model for newt retinal regeneration. Adult newt RPEs were organ cultured with surrounding connective tissues, such as the choroid and sclera, on a filter membrane. Around day 7 in vitro, lightly pigmented "neuron-like cells" with neuritic processes were found migrating out from the explant onto the filter membrane. Their number gradually increased day by day. BrdU-labeling study showed that RPE cells initiated to proliferate under the culture condition on day 4 in vitro, temporally correlating to the time course of retinal regeneration in vivo. Histological observations of cultured explants showed that proliferating RPE cells did not form the stratified structure typically observed in the NR but they rather migrated out from the explants. Neuronal differentiation was examined by immunohistochemical detection of various neuron-specific proteins; HPC-1 (syntaxin), GABA, serotonin, rhodopsin, and acetylated tubulin. Immunoreactive cells for these proteins always possessed fine and long neurite-like processes. Numerous lightly pigmented cells with neuron-like morphology showed HPC-1 immunoreactivity. Fibroblast growth factor-2 (FGF-2), known as a potent factor for the transdifferentiation of ocular tissues in various vertebrates, substantially increased the numbers of both neuron-like cells and HPC-1-like immunoreactive cells in a dose-dependent manner. These results indicate that our culture method ensures neural differentiation of newt RPE cells in vitro and provides, for the first time, a suitable in vitro experimental model system for studying tissue-intrinsic factors responsible for newt retinal regeneration.
Journal of Neurobiology 03/2002; 50(3):209-20. · 3.05 Impact Factor