[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a leading cause of blindness. Most vision loss occurs following the transition from a disease of deposit formation and inflammation to a disease of neovascular fibrosis and/or cell death. Here, we investigate how repeated wound stimulus leads to seminal changes in gene expression and the onset of a perpetual state of stimulus-independent wound response in retinal pigmented epithelial (RPE) cells, a cell-type central to the etiology of AMD.
Transcriptome wide expression profiles of human fetal RPE cell cultures as a function of passage and time post-plating were determined using Agilent 44 K whole genome microarrays and RNA-Seq. Using a systems level analysis, differentially expressed genes and pathways of interest were identified and their role in the establishment of a persistent mesenchymal state was assessed using pharmacological-based experiments.
Using a human fetal RPE cell culture model that considers monolayer disruption and subconfluent culture as a proxy for wound stimulus, we show that prolonged wound stimulus leads to terminal acquisition of a mesenchymal phenotype post-confluence and altered expression of more than 40 % of the transcriptome. In contrast, at subconfluence fewer than 5 % of expressed transcripts have two-fold or greater expression differences after repeated passage. Protein-protein and pathway interaction analysis of the genes with passage-dependent expression levels in subconfluent cultures reveals a 158-node interactome comprised of two interconnected modules with functions pertaining to wound response and cell division. Among the wound response genes are the TGFβ pathway activators: TGFB1, TGFB2, INHBA, INHBB, GDF6, CTGF, and THBS1. Significantly, inhibition of TGFBR1/ACVR1B mediated signaling using receptor kinase inhibitors both forestalls and largely reverses the passage-dependent loss of epithelial potential; thus extending the effective lifespan by at least four passages. Moreover, a disproportionate number of RPE wound response genes have altered expression in neovascular and geographic AMD, including key members of the TGFβ pathway.
In RPE cells the switch to a persistent mesenchymal state following prolonged wound stimulus is driven by lasting activation of the TGFβ pathway. Targeted inhibition of TGFβ signaling may be an effective approach towards retarding AMD progression and producing RPE cells in quantity for research and cell-based therapies.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Affinity reagent pairs that recognize distinct epitopes on a target protein can greatly improve the sensitivity and specificity of molecular detection. Importantly, such pairs can be conjugated to generate reagents that achieve two-site "bidentate" target recognition, with affinities greatly exceeding either monovalent component. DNA aptamers are especially well-suited for such constructs, because they can be linked via standard synthesis techniques without requiring chemical conjugation. Unfortunately, aptamer pairs are difficult to generate, primarily because conventional selection methods preferentially yield aptamers that recognize a dominant "hot spot" epitope. Our array-based discovery platform for multivalent aptamers (AD-MAP) overcomes this problem to achieve efficient discovery of aptamer pairs. We use microfluidic selection and high-throughput sequencing to obtain an enriched pool of aptamer sequences. Next, we synthesize a custom array based on these sequences, and perform parallel affinity measurements to identify the highest-affinity aptamer for the target protein. We use this aptamer to form complexes that block the primary binding site on the target, and then screen the same array with these complexes to identify aptamers that bind secondary epitopes. We used AD-MAP to discover DNA aptamer pairs that bind distinct sites on human angiopoietin-2 with high affinities, even in undiluted serum. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first work to discover new aptamer pairs using arrays. We subsequently conjugated these aptamers with a flexible linker to construct ultra-high-affinity bidentate reagents, with equilibrium dissociation constants as low as 97 pM: >200-fold better than either component aptamer. Functional studies confirm that both aptamers critically contribute to this ultrahigh affinity, highlighting the promise of such reagents for research and clinical use.
No preview · Article · Dec 2014 · Analytical Chemistry
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Compstatin peptides are complement inhibitors that bind and inhibit cleavage of complement C3. Peptide binding is enhanced by hydrophobic interactions, however poor solubility promotes aggregation in aqueous environments. We have designed new compstatin peptides derived from the W4A9 sequence (Ac-ICVWQDWGAHRCT-NH2, cyclized between C2 and C12), based on structural, computational, and experimental studies. Furthermore, we developed and utilized a computational framework for the design of peptides containing non- natural amino acids. These new compstatin peptides contain polar N-terminal extensions and non-natural amino acid substitutions at positions 4 and 9. Peptides with alpha-modified non- natural alanine analogs at position 9, as well as peptides containing only N-terminal polar extensions, exhibited similar activity compared to W4A9, as quantified via ELISA, hemolytic, and cell-based assays, and showed improved solubility, as measured by UV absorbance and reverse-phase HPLC experiments. Due to their potency and solubility, these peptides are promising candidates for therapeutic development in numerous complement-mediated diseases.
Preview · Article · Dec 2014 · Journal of Medicinal Chemistry
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) offer a potentially unlimited supply of cells for emerging cell-based therapies. Unfortunately, the process of deriving distinct cell types can be time consuming and expensive. In the developed world, age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of blindness in the elderly, with more than 7.2 million people afflicted in the U.S. alone. Both hESC-derived retinal pigmented epithelium (hESC-RPE) and induced pluripotent stem cell-derived RPE (iPSC-RPE) are being developed for AMD therapies by multiple groups, but their potential for expansion in culture is limited. To attempt to overcome this passage limitation, we examined the involvement of Rho-associated, coiled-coil protein kinase (ROCK) in hESC-RPE and iPSC-RPE culture. We report that inhibiting ROCK1/2 with Y-27632 allows extended passage of hESC-RPE and iPSC-RPE. Microarray analysis suggests that ROCK inhibition could be suppressing an epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition through various pathways. These include inhibition of key ligands of the transforming growth factor-β pathway (TGFB1 and GDF6) and Wnt signaling. Two important processes are affected, allowing for an increase in hESC-RPE expansion. First, ROCK inhibition promotes proliferation by inducing multiple components that are involved in cell cycle progression. Second, ROCK inhibition affects many pathways that could be converging to suppress RPE-to-mesenchymal transition. This allows hESC-RPE to remain functional for an extended but finite period in culture.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Measles virus (MV) lacking expression of C protein (CKO) is a potent activator of the double-stranded RNA (dsRNA)-dependent protein kinase (PKR), whereas the isogenic parental virus
expressing C protein is not. Here, we demonstrate that significant amounts of dsRNA accumulate during CKO mutant infection but not following parental virus infection. dsRNA accumulated during late stages of infection and localized
with virus replication sites containing N and P proteins. PKR autophosphorylation and stress granule formation correlated
with the timing of dsRNA appearance. Phospho-PKR localized to dsRNA-containing structures as revealed by immunofluorescence.
Production of dsRNA was sensitive to cycloheximide but resistant to actinomycin D, suggesting that dsRNA is a viral product.
Quantitative PCR (qPCR) analyses revealed reduced viral RNA synthesis and a steepened transcription gradient in CKO virus-infected cells compared to those in parental virus-infected cells. The observed alterations were further reflected
in lower viral protein expression levels and reduced CKO virus infectious yield. RNA deep sequencing confirmed the viral RNA expression profile differences seen by qPCR between CKO mutant and parental viruses. After one subsequent passage of the CKO virus, defective interfering RNA (DI-RNA) with a duplex structure was obtained that was not seen with the parental virus.
We conclude that in the absence of C protein, the amount of PKR activator RNA, including DI-RNA, is increased, thereby triggering
innate immune responses leading to impaired MV growth.
No preview · Article · Oct 2013 · Journal of Virology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Please see related commentary: http://www.biomedcentral.com/1741-7015/10/21/abstract
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a leading cause of blindness that affects the central region of the retinal pigmented epithelium (RPE), choroid, and neural retina. Initially characterized by an accumulation of sub-RPE deposits, AMD leads to progressive retinal degeneration, and in advanced cases, irreversible vision loss. Although genetic analysis, animal models, and cell culture systems have yielded important insights into AMD, the molecular pathways underlying AMD's onset and progression remain poorly delineated. We sought to better understand the molecular underpinnings of this devastating disease by performing the first comparative transcriptome analysis of AMD and normal human donor eyes.
RPE-choroid and retina tissue samples were obtained from a common cohort of 31 normal, 26 AMD, and 11 potential pre-AMD human donor eyes. Transcriptome profiles were generated for macular and extramacular regions, and statistical and bioinformatic methods were employed to identify disease-associated gene signatures and functionally enriched protein association networks. Selected genes of high significance were validated using an independent donor cohort.
We identified over 50 annotated genes enriched in cell-mediated immune responses that are globally over-expressed in RPE-choroid AMD phenotypes. Using a machine learning model and a second donor cohort, we show that the top 20 global genes are predictive of AMD clinical diagnosis. We also discovered functionally enriched gene sets in the RPE-choroid that delineate the advanced AMD phenotypes, neovascular AMD and geographic atrophy. Moreover, we identified a graded increase of transcript levels in the retina related to wound response, complement cascade, and neurogenesis that strongly correlates with decreased levels of phototransduction transcripts and increased AMD severity. Based on our findings, we assembled protein-protein interactomes that highlight functional networks likely to be involved in AMD pathogenesis.
We discovered new global biomarkers and gene expression signatures of AMD. These results are consistent with a model whereby cell-based inflammatory responses represent a central feature of AMD etiology, and depending on genetics, environment, or stochastic factors, may give rise to the advanced AMD phenotypes characterized by angiogenesis and/or cell death. Genes regulating these immunological activities, along with numerous other genes identified here, represent promising new targets for AMD-directed therapeutics and diagnostics.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We introduce a human retinal pigmented epithelial (RPE) cell-culture model that mimics several key aspects of early stage age-related macular degeneration (AMD). These include accumulation of sub-RPE deposits that contain molecular constituents of human drusen, and activation of complement leading to formation of deposit-associated terminal complement complexes. Abundant sub-RPE deposits that are rich in apolipoprotein E (APOE), a prominent drusen constituent, are formed by RPE cells grown on porous supports. Exposure to human serum results in selective, deposit-associated accumulation of additional known drusen components, including vitronectin, clusterin, and serum amyloid P, thus suggesting that specific protein-protein interactions contribute to the accretion of plasma proteins during drusen formation. Serum exposure also leads to complement activation, as evidenced by the generation of C5b-9 immunoreactive terminal complement complexes in association with APOE-containing deposits. Ultrastructural analyses reveal two morphologically distinct forms of deposits: One consisting of membrane-bounded multivesicular material, and the other of nonmembrane-bounded particle conglomerates. Collectively, these results suggest that drusen formation involves the accumulation of sub-RPE material rich in APOE, a prominent biosynthetic product of the RPE, which interacts with a select group of drusen-associated plasma proteins. Activation of the complement cascade appears to be mediated via the classical pathway by the binding of C1q to ligands in APOE-rich deposits, triggering direct activation of complement by C1q, deposition of terminal complement complexes and inflammatory sequelae. This model system will facilitate the analysis of molecular and cellular aspects of AMD pathogenesis, and the testing of new therapeutic agents for its treatment.
Preview · Article · Nov 2011 · Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: ROBO1 is a strong candidate gene for age-related macular degeneration (AMD) based upon its location under a linkage peak on chromosome 3p12, its expression pattern, and its purported function in a pathway that includes RORA, a gene previously associated with risk for neovascular AMD. Previously, we observed that expression of ROBO1 and RORA is down-regulated among wet AMD cases, as compared to their unaffected siblings. Thus, we hypothesized that contribution of association signals in ROBO1, and interaction between these two genes may be important for both wet and dry AMD. We evaluated association of 19 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in ROBO1 with wet and dry stages of AMD in a sibling cohort and a Greek case-control cohort containing 491 wet AMD cases, 174 dry AMD cases and 411 controls. Association signals and interaction results were replicated in an independent prospective cohort (1070 controls, 164 wet AMD cases, 293 dry AMD cases). The most significantly associated ROBO1 SNPs were rs1387665 under an additive model (meta P = 0.028) for wet AMD and rs9309833 under a recessive model (meta P = 6 × 10(-4)) for dry AMD. Further analyses revealed interaction between ROBO1 rs9309833 and RORA rs8034864 for both wet and dry AMD (interaction P<0.05). These studies were further supported by whole transcriptome expression profile studies from 66 human donor eyes and chromatin immunoprecipitation assays from mouse retinas. These findings suggest that distinct ROBO1 variants may influence the risk of wet and dry AMD, and the effects of ROBO1 on AMD risk may be modulated by RORA variants.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Vitamin D has been shown to have anti-angiogenic properties and to play a protective role in several types of cancer, including breast, prostate and cutaneous melanoma. Similarly, vitamin D levels have been shown to be protective for risk of a number of conditions, including cardiovascular disease and chronic kidney disease, as well as numerous autoimmune disorders such as multiple sclerosis, inflammatory bowel diseases and type 1 diabetes mellitus. A study performed by Parekh et al. was the first to suggest a role for vitamin D in age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and showed a correlation between reduced serum vitamin D levels and risk for early AMD. Based on this study and the protective role of vitamin D in diseases with similar pathophysiology to AMD, we examined the role of vitamin D in a family-based cohort of 481 sibling pairs. Using extremely phenotypically discordant sibling pairs, initially we evaluated the association of neovascular AMD and vitamin D/sunlight-related epidemiological factors. After controlling for established AMD risk factors, including polymorphisms of the genes encoding complement factor H (CFH) and age-related maculopathy susceptibility 2/HtrA serine peptidase (ARMS2/HTRA1), and smoking history, we found that ultraviolet irradiance was protective for the development of neovascular AMD (p = 0.001). Although evaluation of serum vitamin D levels (25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D]) was higher in unaffected individuals than in their affected siblings, this finding did not reach statistical significance.
Based on the relationship between ultraviolet irradiance and vitamin D production, we employed a candidate gene approach for evaluating common variation in key vitamin D pathway genes (the genes encoding the vitamin D receptor [VDR]; cytochrome P450, family 27, subfamily B, polypeptide 1 [CYP27B1]; cytochrome P450, family 24, subfamily A, polypeptide 1 [CYP24A1]; and CYP27A1) in this same family-based cohort. Initial findings were then validated and replicated in the extended family cohort, an unrelated case-control cohort from central Greece and a prospective nested case-control population from the Nurse's Health Study and Health Professionals Follow-Up Studies, which included patients with all subtypes of AMD for a total of 2,528 individuals. Single point variants in CYP24A1 (the gene encoding the catabolising enzyme of the vitamin D pathway) were demonstrated to influence AMD risk after controlling for smoking history, sex and age in all populations, both separately and, more importantly, in a meta-analysis. This is the first report demonstrating a genetic association between vitamin D metabolism and AMD risk. These findings were also supplemented with expression data from human donor eyes and human retinal cell lines. These data not only extend previous biological studies in the AMD field, but further emphasise common antecedents between several disorders with an inflammatory/immunogenic component such as cardiovascular disease, cancer and AMD.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: During the past ten years, dramatic advances have been made in unraveling the biological bases of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the most common cause of irreversible blindness in western populations. In that timeframe, two distinct lines of evidence emerged which implicated chronic local inflammation and activation of the complement cascade in AMD pathogenesis. First, a number of complement system proteins, complement activators, and complement regulatory proteins were identified as molecular constituents of drusen, the hallmark extracellular deposits associated with early AMD. Subsequently, genetic studies revealed highly significant statistical associations between AMD and variants of several complement pathway-associated genes including: Complement factor H (CFH), complement factor H-related 1 and 3 (CFHR1 and CFHR3), complement factor B (CFB), complement component 2 (C2), and complement component 3 (C3).
Full-text · Article · Dec 2009 · Progress in Retinal and Eye Research
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The animal egg is a unique quiescent cell, prepackaged with maternal mRNAs and proteins that have functions in early development. Rapid, transient signaling at fertilization alters egg physiology, resulting in Ca(2+) release from the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and cytoplasmic alkalinization. These events trigger the zygote developmental program through initiation of DNA synthesis and entry into mitosis. Post-translational modifications of maternal proteins are responsible for the spatio-temporal regulation that orchestrates egg activation. We used functional proteomics to identify the candidate maternal proteins involved in egg activation and early development. As the first step of this analysis, we present the data on the baseline maternal proteome, in particular, on proteins exhibiting changes in abundance and in phosphorylation state upon egg activation. We identify 94 proteins that were stable, reproducibly displayed a shift in isoelectric point, or changed in relative abundance at specific times after activation. The identities of these proteins were determined by quadrupole time-of-flight tandem mass spectrometry. The set of the most dynamic proteins appear to be enriched in intermediary metabolism proteins, cytoskeletal proteins, gamete associated proteins and proteins that have Ca(2+) mediated activities.
Full-text · Article · Feb 2008 · Developmental Biology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The discoveries of gene variants associated with macular diseases have provided valuable insight into their molecular mechanisms, but they have not clarified why the macula is particularly vulnerable to degenerative disease. Its predisposition may be attributable to specialized structural features and/or functional properties of the underlying macular RPE/choroid. To examine the molecular basis for the macula's disease susceptibility, we compared the gene expression profile of the human RPE/choroid in the macula with the profile in the extramacular region using DNA microarrays. Seventy-five candidate genes with differences in macular:extramacular expression levels were identified by microarray analysis, of which 29 were selected for further analysis. Quantitative PCR confirmed that 21 showed statistically significant differences in expression. Five genes were expressed at higher levels in the macula. Two showed significant changes in the macular:extramacular expression ratio; another two exhibited changes in absolute expression level, as a function of age or AMD. Several of the differentially expressed genes have potential relevance to AMD pathobiology. One is an RPE cell growth factor (TFPI2), five are extracellular matrix components (DCN, MYOC, OGN, SMOC2, TFPI2), and six are related to inflammation (CCL19, CCL26, CXCL14, SLIT2) and/or angiogenesis (CXCL14, SLIT2, TFPI2, WFDC1). The identification of regional differences in gene expression in the RPE/choroid is a first step in clarifying the macula's propensity for degeneration. These findings lay the groundwork for further studies into the roles of the corresponding gene products in the normal, aged, and diseased macula.
No preview · Article · Oct 2007 · Experimental Eye Research
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Polymorphisms in the complement factor H gene (CFH) are associated with a significantly increased risk for, or protection against, the development of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The most documented risk-conferring single-nucleotide polymorphism results in a tyrosine-to-histidine substitution at position 402 (Y402H) of the CFH protein. In this work, we examined the ocular distributions and relative abundance of CFH, several CFH-binding proteins, and abundant serum proteins in the retinal pigmented epithelium (RPE), Bruch's membrane, and choroid (RPE-choroid) in CFH homozygotes possessing either the "at-risk" 402HH or "normal" 402YY variants. Although CFH immunoreactivity is high in the choroid and in drusen, no differences in CFH-labeling patterns between genotypes are apparent. In contrast, at-risk individuals have significantly higher levels of the CFH-binding protein, C-reactive protein (CRP), in the choroidal stroma. Immunoblots confirm that at-risk individuals have approximately 2.5-fold higher levels of CRP in the RPE-choroid; no significant differences in the levels of CFH or other serum proteins are detected. Similarly, we find no differences in CFH transcription levels in the RPE-choroid nor evidence for local ocular CRP transcription. Increased levels of CRP in the choroid may reflect a state of chronic inflammation that is a by-product of attenuated CFH complement-inhibitory activity in those who possess the CFH at-risk allele. Because the CRP-binding site in CFH lies within the domain containing the Y402H polymorphism, it is also possible that the AMD risk-conferring allele alters the binding properties of CFH, thereby leading to choroidal CRP deposition, contributing to AMD pathogenesis.
Preview · Article · Dec 2006 · Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Variants in the complement factor H gene (CFH) are associated with age-related macular degeneration (AMD). CFH and five CFH-related genes (CFHR1-5) lie within the regulators of complement activation (RCA) locus on chromosome 1q32. Aims and Methods. In this study, the structural and evolutionary relationships between these genes and AMD was refined using a combined genetic, molecular and immunohistochemical approach.
We identify and characterize a large, common deletion that encompasses both the CFHR1 and CFHR3 genes. CFHR1, an abundant serum protein, is absent in subjects homozygous for the deletion. Genotyping analyses of AMD cases and controls from two cohorts demonstrates that deletion homozygotes comprise 1.1% of cases and 5.7% of the controls (chi-square=32.8; P= 1.6 E-09). CFHR1 and CFHR3 transcripts are abundant in liver, but undetectable in the ocular retinal pigmented epithelium/choroid complex. AMD-associated CFH/CFHR1/CFHR3 haplotypes are widespread in human populations.
The absence of CFHR1 and/or CFHR3 may account for the protective effects conferred by some CFH haplotypes. Moreover, the high frequencies of the 402H allele and the delCFHR1/CFHR3 alleles in African populations suggest an ancient origin for these alleles. The considerable diversity accumulated at this locus may be due to selection, which is consistent with an important role for the CFHR genes in innate immunity.
Full-text · Article · Feb 2006 · Annals of Medicine
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Growth associated protein 43 (GAP 43) is involved in synapse formation and it is expressed in the retina in a very specific pattern. Although GAP 43 is downregulated at the time of synapse formation, it can be re-expressed following injury such as axotomy or ischemia. Because of this we sought to characterize the expression of GAP 43 after retinal detachment (RD). Immunoblot, immunocytochemical and quantitative polymerase chain reaction (QPCR) techniques were used to assess the level of GAP 43 expression after experimental RD. GAP 43 was localized to three sublaminae of the inner plexiform layer of the normal retina. GAP 43 became upregulated in a subset of retinal ganglion cells following at least 7 days of RD. By immunoblot GAP 43 could be detected by 3 days. QPCR shows the upregulation of GAP 43 message by 6hr of detachment. To further characterize changes in ganglion cells, we used an antibody to neurofilament 70 and 200kDa (NF) proteins. Anti-NF labels horizontal cells, ganglion cell dendrites in the inner plexiform layer, and ganglion cell axons (fasicles) in the normal retina. Following detachment it is upregulated in horizontal cells and ganglion cells. When detached retina was double labelled with anti-GAP 43 and anti-NF, some cells were labelled with both markers, while others labelled with only one. We have previously shown that second order neurons respond to detachment; here we show that third order neurons are responding as well. Cellular remodelling of this type in response to detachment may explain the slow recovery of vision that often occurs after reattachment, or those changes that are often assumed to be permanent.
Full-text · Article · Apr 2003 · Experimental Eye Research
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a leading cause of irreversible vision loss in older individuals worldwide. The disease is characterized by abnormal extracellular deposits, known as drusen, that accumulate along the basal surface of the retinal pigmented epithelium. Although drusen deposition is common in older individuals, large numbers of drusen and/or extensive areas of confluent drusen represent a significant risk factor for AMD. Widespread drusen deposition is associated with retinal pigmented epithelial cell dysfunction and degeneration of the photoreceptor cells of the neural retina. Recent studies have shown that drusen contain a variety of immunomodulatory molecules, suggesting that the process of drusen formation involves local inflammatory events, including activation of the complement cascade. Similar observations in Alzheimer's disease (AD) have lead to the hypothesis that chronic localized inflammation is an important element of AD pathogenesis, with significant neurodegenerative consequences. Accordingly, the amyloid beta (A beta) peptide, a major constituent of neuritic plaques in AD, has been implicated as a primary activator of complement in AD. Here we show that A beta is associated with a substructural vesicular component within drusen. A beta colocalizes with activated complement components in these "amyloid vesicles," thereby identifying them as potential primary sites of complement activation. Thus, A beta deposition could be an important component of the local inflammatory events that contribute to atrophy of the retinal pigmented epithelium, drusen biogenesis, and the pathogenesis of AMD.
Full-text · Article · Oct 2002 · Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Drusen are abnormal extracellular matrix deposits characteristic of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a leading cause of blindness in the aging human population. The mechanisms underlying drusen formation are not well characterized. The purpose of this study was to examine the expression of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) and tissue inhibitors of metalloproteinases (TIMPs) in drusen, and in the surrounding cells and tissue. To assess the extent of MMP and TIMP expression by retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells, cDNA arrays were screened with probes generated from cultured human RPE cells. The distribution of MMP-1, -2 and -3 and TIMP-1, -2, -3 and -4 was determined using immunohistochemistry in human RPE choroid from donor eyes with and without a clinical history of AMD. Gelatinase activity was assessed in unfixed frozen sections using in situ zymography. In cultured RPE cells, expression of 10 MMP and all four known TIMP mRNAs was detected. MMP immunoreactivity was widespread in the RPE choroid, but was absent from the interior of drusen. TIMP-3, but not other TIMPs, was detected in the drusen interior. Likewise, metal ion dependent gelatinase activity could be detected in RPE choroid, but not in drusen. These results show that, while metalloproteinase activity is widespread throughout the RPE choroid, drusen are cold spots for proteolysis. The data lead to the speculation that high TIMP-3 concentrations within drusen could inhibit MMPs and as a result slow the proteolytic degradation of these deposits.
Preview · Article · Feb 2002 · Experimental Eye Research
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We have used X-ray fiber diffraction to probe the structure of fibers of tau and tau fragments. Fibers of fragments from the microtubule binding domain had a cross beta-structure that closely resembles that reported both for neurofibrillary tangles found in Alzheimer's disease brain and for fibrous lesions from other protein folding diseases. In contrast, fibers of full-length tau had a different, more complex structure. Despite major differences at the molecular level, all fiber types exhibited very similar morphology by electron microscopy. These results have a number of implications for understanding the etiology of Alzheimer's and other tauopathic diseases. The morphology of the peptide fibers suggests that the region in tau corresponding to the peptides plays a critical role in the nucleation of fiber assembly. The dramatically different structure of the full length tau fibers suggests that some region in tau has enough inherent structure to interfere with the formation of cross beta-fibers. Additionally, the similar appearance by electron microscopy of fibrils with varying molecular structure suggests that different molecular arrangements may exist in other samples of fibers formed from tau.