The pathophysiology of the E150K mutation in the rod opsin gene associated with autosomal recessive retinitis pigmentosa (arRP) has yet to be determined. We generated knock-in mice carrying a single nucleotide change in exon 2 of the rod opsin gene resulting in the E150K mutation. This novel mouse model displayed severe retinal degeneration affecting rhodopsin’s stabilization of rod outer segments (ROS). Homozygous E150K (KK) mice exhibited early-onset retinal degeneration, with disorganized ROS structures, autofluorescent deposits in the subretinal space, and aberrant photoreceptor phagocytosis. Heterozygous (EK) mice displayed a delayed-onset milder retinal degeneration. Further, mutant receptors were mislocalized to the inner segments and perinuclear region. Though KK mouse rods displayed markedly decreased phototransduction, biochemical studies of the mutant rhodopsin revealed only minimally affected chromophore binding and G protein activation. Ablation of the chromophore by crossing KK mice with mice lacking the critical visual cycle protein LRAT slowed retinal degeneration, whereas blocking phototransduction by crossing KK mice with GNAT1-deficient mice slightly accelerated this process. This study highlights the importance of proper higher-order organization of rhodopsin in the native tissue and provides information about the signaling properties of this mutant rhodopsin. Additionally, these results suggest that patients heterozygous for the E150K mutation should be periodically reevaluated for delayed-onset retinal degeneration.
Ning Zhang, Alexander V. Kolesnikov, Beata Jastrzebska, Debarshi Mustafi, Osamu Sawada, Tadao Maeda, Christel Genoud, Andreas Engel, Vladimir J. Kefalov, Krzysztof Palczewski
Several lines of evidence suggest a link between age-related macular degeneration and retinal cholesterol maintenance. Cytochrome P450 27A1 (CYP27A1) is a ubiquitously expressed mitochondrial sterol 27-hydroxylase that plays an important role in the metabolism of cholesterol and cholesterol-related compounds. We conducted a comprehensive ophthalmic evaluation of mice lacking CYP27A1. We found that the loss of CYP27A1 led to dysregulation of retinal cholesterol homeostasis, including unexpected upregulation of retinal cholesterol biosynthesis. Cyp27a1–/– mice developed retinal lesions characterized by cholesterol deposition beneath the retinal pigment epithelium. Further, Cyp27a1-null mice showed pathological neovascularization, which likely arose from both the retina and the choroid, that led to the formation of retinal-choroidal anastomosis. Blood flow alterations and blood vessel leakage were noted in the areas of pathology. The Cyp27a1–/– retina was hypoxic and had activated Müller cells. We suggest a mechanism whereby abolished sterol 27-hydroxylase activity leads to vascular changes and identify Cyp27a1–/– mice as a model for one of the variants of type 3 retinal neovascularization occurring in some patients with age-related macular degeneration.
Saida Omarova, Casey D. Charvet, Rachel E. Reem, Natalia Mast, Wenchao Zheng, Suber Huang, Neal S. Peachey, Irina A. Pikuleva
Disruption of cellular processes affected by multiple genes and accumulation of numerous insults throughout life dictate the progression of age-related disorders, but their complex etiology is poorly understood. Postmitotic neurons, such as photoreceptor cells in the retina and epithelial cells in the adjacent retinal pigmented epithelium, are especially susceptible to cellular senescence, which contributes to age-related retinal degeneration (ARD). The multigenic and complex etiology of ARD in humans is reflected by the relative paucity of effective compounds for its early prevention and treatment. To understand the genetic differences that drive ARD pathogenesis, we studied A/J mice, which develop ARD more pronounced than that in other inbred mouse models. Although our investigation of consomic strains failed to identify a chromosome associated with the observed retinal deterioration, pathway analysis of RNA-Seq data from young mice prior to retinal pathological changes revealed that increased vulnerability to ARD in A/J mice was due to initially high levels of inflammatory factors and low levels of homeostatic neuroprotective factors. The genetic signatures of an uncompensated preinflammatory state and ARD progression identified here aid in understanding the susceptible genetic loci that underlie pathogenic mechanisms of age-associated disorders, including several human blinding diseases.
Debarshi Mustafi, Tadao Maeda, Hideo Kohno, Joseph H. Nadeau, Krzysztof Palczewski
Central serous chorioretinopathy (CSCR) is a vision-threatening eye disease with no validated treatment and unknown pathogeny. In CSCR, dilation and leakage of choroid vessels underneath the retina cause subretinal fluid accumulation and retinal detachment. Because glucocorticoids induce and aggravate CSCR and are known to bind to the mineralocorticoid receptor (MR), CSCR may be related to inappropriate MR activation. Our aim was to assess the effect of MR activation on rat choroidal vasculature and translate the results to CSCR patients. Intravitreous injection of the glucocorticoid corticosterone in rat eyes induced choroidal enlargement. Aldosterone, a specific MR activator, elicited the same effect, producing choroid vessel dilation -and leakage. We identified an underlying mechanism of this effect: aldosterone upregulated the endothelial vasodilatory K channel KCa2.3. Its blockade prevented aldosterone-induced thickening. To translate these findings, we treated 2 patients with chronic nonresolved CSCR with oral eplerenone, a specific MR antagonist, for 5 weeks, and observed impressive and rapid resolution of retinal detachment and choroidal vasodilation as well as improved visual acuity. The benefit was maintained 5 months after eplerenone withdrawal. Our results identify MR signaling as a pathway controlling choroidal vascular bed relaxation and provide a pathogenic link with human CSCR, which suggests that blockade of MR could be used therapeutically to reverse choroid vasculopathy.
Min Zhao, Isabelle Célérier, Elodie Bousquet, Jean-Claude Jeanny, Laurent Jonet, Michèle Savoldelli, Olivier Offret, Antoine Curan, Nicolette Farman, Frédéric Jaisser, Francine Behar-Cohen
During development, the retinal vasculature grows toward hypoxic areas in an organized fashion. By contrast, in ischemic retinopathies, new blood vessels grow out of the retinal surfaces without ameliorating retinal hypoxia. Restoration of proper angiogenic directionality would be of great benefit to reoxygenize the ischemic retina and resolve disease pathogenesis. Here, we show that binding of the semaphorin 3E (Sema3E) ligand to the transmembrane PlexinD1 receptor initiates a signaling pathway that normalizes angiogenic directionality in both developing retinas and ischemic retinopathy. In developing mouse retinas, inhibition of VEGF signaling resulted in downregulation of endothelial PlexinD1 expression, suggesting that astrocyte-derived VEGF normally promotes PlexinD1 expression in growing blood vessels. Neuron-derived Sema3E signaled to PlexinD1 and activated the small GTPase RhoJ in ECs, thereby counteracting VEGF-induced filopodia projections and defining the retinal vascular pathfinding. In a mouse model of ischemic retinopathy, enhanced expression of PlexinD1 and RhoJ in extraretinal vessels prevented VEGF-induced disoriented projections of the endothelial filopodia. Remarkably, intravitreal administration of Sema3E protein selectively suppressed extraretinal vascular outgrowth without affecting the desired regeneration of the retinal vasculature. Our study suggests a new paradigm for vascular regeneration therapy that guides angiogenesis precisely toward the ischemic retina.
Yoko Fukushima, Mitsuhiro Okada, Hiroshi Kataoka, Masanori Hirashima, Yutaka Yoshida, Fanny Mann, Fumi Gomi, Kohji Nishida, Shin-Ichi Nishikawa, Akiyoshi Uemura
Glaucoma is one of the most common neurodegenerative diseases. Despite this, the earliest stages of this complex disease are still unclear. This study was specifically designed to identify early stages of glaucoma in DBA/2J mice. To do this, we used genome-wide expression profiling of optic nerve head and retina and a series of computational methods. Eyes with no detectable glaucoma by conventional assays were grouped into molecularly defined stages of disease using unbiased hierarchical clustering. These stages represent a temporally ordered sequence of glaucoma states. We then determined networks and biological processes that were altered at these early stages. Early-stage expression changes included upregulation of both the complement cascade and the endothelin system, and so we tested the therapeutic value of separately inhibiting them. Mice with a mutation in complement component 1a (C1qa) were protected from glaucoma. Similarly, inhibition of the endothelin system with bosentan, an endothelin receptor antagonist, was strongly protective against glaucomatous damage. Since endothelin 2 is potently vasoconstrictive and was produced by microglia/macrophages, our data provide what we believe to be a novel link between these cell types and vascular dysfunction in glaucoma. Targeting early molecular events, such as complement and endothelin induction, may provide effective new treatments for human glaucoma.
Gareth R. Howell, Danilo G. Macalinao, Gregory L. Sousa, Michael Walden, Ileana Soto, Stephen C. Kneeland, Jessica M. Barbay, Benjamin L. King, Jeffrey K. Marchant, Matthew Hibbs, Beth Stevens, Ben A. Barres, Abbot F. Clark, Richard T. Libby, Simon W.M. John
Retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cell dysfunction plays a central role in various retinal degenerative diseases, but knowledge is limited regarding the pathways responsible for adult RPE stress responses in vivo. RPE mitochondrial dysfunction has been implicated in the pathogenesis of several forms of retinal degeneration. Here we have shown that postnatal ablation of RPE mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation in mice triggers gradual epithelium dedifferentiation, typified by reduction of RPE-characteristic proteins and cellular hypertrophy. The electrical response of the retina to light decreased and photoreceptors eventually degenerated. Abnormal RPE cell behavior was associated with increased glycolysis and activation of, and dependence upon, the hepatocyte growth factor/met proto-oncogene pathway. RPE dedifferentiation and hypertrophy arose through stimulation of the AKT/mammalian target of rapamycin (AKT/mTOR) pathway. Administration of an oxidant to wild-type mice also caused RPE dedifferentiation and mTOR activation. Importantly, treatment with the mTOR inhibitor rapamycin blunted key aspects of dedifferentiation and preserved photoreceptor function for both insults. These results reveal an in vivo response of the mature RPE to diverse stressors that prolongs RPE cell survival at the expense of epithelial attributes and photoreceptor function. Our findings provide a rationale for mTOR pathway inhibition as a therapeutic strategy for retinal degenerative diseases involving RPE stress.
Chen Zhao, Douglas Yasumura, Xiyan Li, Michael Matthes, Marcia Lloyd, Gregory Nielsen, Kelly Ahern, Michael Snyder, Dean Bok, Joshua L. Dunaief, Matthew M. LaVail, Douglas Vollrath
Usher syndrome is a genetically heterogeneous recessive disease characterized by hearing loss and retinitis pigmentosa (RP). It frequently presents with unexplained, often intrafamilial, variability of the visual phenotype. Although 9 genes have been linked with Usher syndrome, many patients do not have mutations in any of these genes, suggesting that there are still unidentified genes involved in the syndrome. Here, we have determined that mutations in PDZ domain–containing 7 (PDZD7), which encodes a homolog of proteins mutated in Usher syndrome subtype 1C (USH1C) and USH2D, contribute to Usher syndrome. Mutations in PDZD7 were identified only in patients with mutations in other known Usher genes. In a set of sisters, each with a homozygous mutation in USH2A, a frame-shift mutation in PDZD7 was present in the sister with more severe RP and earlier disease onset. Further, heterozygous PDZD7 mutations were present in patients with truncating mutations in USH2A, G protein–coupled receptor 98 (GPR98; also known as USH2C), and an unidentified locus. We validated the human genotypes using zebrafish, and our findings were consistent with digenic inheritance of PDZD7 and GPR98, and with PDZD7 as a retinal disease modifier in patients with USH2A. Pdzd7 knockdown produced an Usher-like phenotype in zebrafish, exacerbated retinal cell death in combination with ush2a or gpr98, and reduced Gpr98 localization in the region of the photoreceptor connecting cilium. Our data challenge the view of Usher syndrome as a traditional Mendelian disorder and support the reclassification of Usher syndrome as an oligogenic disease.
Inga Ebermann, Jennifer B. Phillips, Max C. Liebau, Robert K. Koenekoop, Bernhard Schermer, Irma Lopez, Ellen Schäfer, Anne-Francoise Roux, Claudia Dafinger, Antje Bernd, Eberhart Zrenner, Mireille Claustres, Bernardo Blanco, Gudrun Nürnberg, Peter Nürnberg, Rebecca Ruland, Monte Westerfield, Thomas Benzing, Hanno J. Bolz
During human embryogenesis, neural crest cells migrate to the anterior chamber of the eye and then differentiate into the inner layers of the cornea, the iridocorneal angle, and the anterior portion of the iris. When proper development does not occur, this causes iridocorneal angle dysgenesis and intraocular pressure (IOP) elevation, which ultimately results in developmental glaucoma. Here, we show that heparan sulfate (HS) deficiency in mouse neural crest cells causes anterior chamber dysgenesis, including corneal endothelium defects, corneal stroma hypoplasia, and iridocorneal angle dysgenesis. These dysfunctions are phenotypes of the human developmental glaucoma, Peters anomaly. In the neural crest cells of mice embryos, disruption of the gene encoding exostosin 1 (Ext1), which is an indispensable enzyme for HS synthesis, resulted in disturbed TGF-β2 signaling. This led to reduced phosphorylation of Smad2 and downregulated expression of forkhead box C1 (Foxc1) and paired-like homeodomain transcription factor 2 (Pitx2), transcription factors that have been identified as the causative genes for developmental glaucoma. Furthermore, impaired interactions between HS and TGF-β2 induced developmental glaucoma, which was manifested as an IOP elevation caused by iridocorneal angle dysgenesis. These findings suggest that HS is necessary for neural crest cells to form the anterior chamber via TGF-β2 signaling. Disturbances of HS synthesis might therefore contribute to the pathology of developmental glaucoma.
Keiichiro Iwao, Masaru Inatani, Yoshihiro Matsumoto, Minako Ogata-Iwao, Yuji Takihara, Fumitoshi Irie, Yu Yamaguchi, Satoshi Okinami, Hidenobu Tanihara
Zhenglin Yang, Yali Chen, Concepcion Lillo, Jeremy Chien, Zhengya Yu, Michel Michaelides, Martin Klein, Kim A. Howes, Yang Li, Yuuki Kaminoh, Haoyu Chen, Chao Zhao, Yuhong Chen, Youssef Tawfik Al-Sheikh, Goutam Karan, Denis Corbeil, Pascal Escher, Shin Kamaya, Chunmei Li, Samantha Johnson, Jeanne M. Frederick, Yu Zhao, Changguan Wang, D. Joshua Cameron, Wieland B. Huttner, Daniel F. Schorderet, Frances L. Munier, Anthony T. Moore, David G. Birch, Wolfgang Baehr, David M. Hunt, David S. Williams, Kang Zhang