Analysis of the role of ZEB1 in the pathogenesis of posterior polymorphous corneal dystrophy.
ABSTRACT: PURPOSE:To determine how nonsense mutations in the transcription factor ZEB1 lead to the development of posterior polymorphous corneal dystrophy type 3 (PPCD3). METHODS:Whole-cell extracts were obtained from cultured human corneal epithelial cells (HCEpCs) as a source of ZEB1 protein. DNA-binding assays were performed using the whole-cell extract and oligonucleotide probes consisting of the two conserved E2-box motifs and surrounding nucleotides upstream of COL4A3. ZEB1 and COL4A3 mRNA expression in primary human corneal endothelial cells (HCEnCs) was assayed in both PPCD3 and control corneas by RT-PCR. Immunohistochemistry was used to localize ZEB1 and COL4A3 expression in normal human cornea. RESULTS:Electromobility shift assays (EMSAs) and competition EMSAs demonstrated binding of protein(s) in the cultured HCEpCs to the E2-box motifs in the probes. The supershift EMSA confirmed that ZEB1, demonstrated to be present in the whole-cell extracts, binds to both the proximal and distal E2-box motifs in the COL4A3 promoter region. Both COL4A3 and ZEB1 are expressed in normal HCEnCs, although in PPCD3, ZEB1 expression is decreased and COL4A3 expression is increased compared with levels of both genes in healthy control corneas. CONCLUSIONS:Inversely related HCEnC expression levels of ZEB1 and COL4A3 in PPCD3 indicate that ZEB1-mediated alterations in COL4A3 expression are most likely associated with the pathogenesis of this corneal endothelial dystrophy. However, the demonstration of COL4A3 expression in healthy adult primary HCEnCs suggests that PPCD3 is more likely to involve an alteration in the timing and/or degree of COL4A3 expression than to result from the dichotomous change implied by the previously proposed ectopic expression model.
Project description:To investigate the role of the zinc finger e-box binding homeobox 1 (ZEB1) transcription factor in posterior polymorphous corneal dystrophy 3 by demonstrating its ability to regulate type IV collagen gene transcription via binding to putative E2 box motifs.Putative E2 box motifs were identified by in silico analysis within the promoter region of collagen, type IV, alpha3 (COL4A3) and collagen, type IV, alpha4 (COL4A4). To test the ability of ZEB1 to bind to each identified E2 box, electrophoretic mobility shift assays were performed by incubating ZEB1-enriched nuclear extracts with DIG-labeled probes containing one of each of the identified E2 box motifs. Dual-luciferase reporter assays were performed to test the effects of ZEB1 on the luciferase activity of COL4A3 and cadherin 1 (CDH1) promoter constructs, and to determine the effect of a ZEB1 truncating mutation on CDH1 promoter activity.ZEB1 exhibited binding to six of the nine COL4A3 E2 box probes, whereas no binding was observed for either of the two COL4A4 E2 box probes. ZEB1 overexpression resulted in reduced activity of the COL4A3 promoter construct containing all identified E2 box motifs, whereas a truncating ZEB1 mutation led to the loss of ZEB1-dependent repression of the CDH1 promoter.COL4A3 gene expression is negatively regulated by ZEB1 binding to E2 box motifs in the COL4A3 promoter region. Therefore, the altered expression of type IV collagens, particularly COL4A3, in the corneal endothelium in individuals with PPCD3 is likely due to reduced transcriptional repression in the setting of a single functional ZEB1 allele.
Project description:To investigate the molecular basis of posterior polymorphous corneal dystrophy (PPCD) by examining the PPCD transcriptome and the effect of decreased ZEB1 expression on corneal endothelial cell (CEnC) gene expression.Next-generation RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) analyses of corneal endothelium from two PPCD-affected individuals (one with PPCD3 and one of unknown genetic cause) compared with two age-matched controls, and primary human CEnC (pHCEnC) transfected with siRNA-mediated ZEB1 knockdown. The expression of selected differentially expressed genes was validated by quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) and/or assessed by in situ hybridization in the corneal endothelium of four independent cases of PPCD (one with PPCD3 and three of unknown genetic cause).Expression of 16% and 46% of the 104 protein-coding genes specific to ex vivo corneal endothelium was lost in the endothelium of two individuals with PPCD. Thirty-two genes associated with ZEB1 and 3 genes (BMP4, CCND1, ZEB1) associated with OVOL2 were differentially expressed in the same direction in both individuals with PPCD. Immunohistochemistry staining and RNA-seq analyses demonstrated variable expression of type IV collagens in PPCD corneas. Decreasing ZEB1 expression in pHCEnC altered expression of 711 protein-coding genes, many of which are associated with canonical pathways regulating various cellular processes.Identification of the altered transcriptome in PPCD and in a cell-based model of PPCD provided insight into the molecular alterations characterizing PPCD. Further study of the differentially expressed genes associated with ZEB1 and OVOL2 is expected to identify candidate genes for individuals with PPCD and without a ZEB1 or OVOL2 mutation.
Project description:Posterior polymorphous corneal dystrophy (PPCD, also known as PPMD) is a rare disease involving metaplasia and overgrowth of corneal endothelial cells. In patients with PPCD, these cells manifest in an epithelial morphology and gene expression pattern, produce an aberrant basement membrane, and, sometimes, spread over the iris and nearby structures in a way that increases the risk for glaucoma. We previously mapped PPCD to a region (PPCD3) on chromosome 10 containing the gene that encodes the two-handed zinc-finger homeodomain transcription factor TCF8. Here, we report a heterozygous frameshift mutation in TCF8 that segregates with PPCD in the family used to map PPCD3 and four different heterozygous nonsense and frameshift mutations in TCF8 in four other PPCD probands. Family reports of inguinal hernia, hydrocele, and possible bone anomalies in affected individuals suggest that individuals with TCF8 mutations should be examined for nonocular anomalies. We detect transcripts of all three identified PPCD genes (VSX1, COL8A2, and TCF8) in the cornea. We show presence of a complex (core plus secondary) binding site for TCF8 in the promoter of Alport syndrome gene COL4A3, which encodes collagen type IV alpha 3, and we present immunohistochemical evidence of ectopic expression of COL4A3 in corneal endothelium of the proband of the original PPCD3 family. Identification of TCF8 as the PPCD3 gene provides a valuable tool for the study of critical gene regulation events in PPCD pathology and suggests a possible role for TCF8 mutations in altered structure and function of cells lining body cavities other than the anterior chamber of the eye. Thus, this study has identified TCF8 as the gene responsible for approximately half of the cases of PPCD, has implicated TCF8 mutations in developmental abnormalities outside the eye, and has presented the TCF8 regulatory target, COL4A3, as a key, shared molecular component of two different diseases, PPCD and Alport syndrome.
Project description:To investigate the functional role that the zinc e-box binding homeobox 1 (ZEB1) gene, which underlies the genetic basis of posterior polymorphous corneal dystrophy 3 (PPCD3), plays in corneal endothelial cell proliferation, apoptosis, migration, and barrier function.A human corneal endothelial cell line (HCEnC-21T) was transfected with siRNA targeting ZEB1 mRNA. Cell proliferation, apoptosis, migration, and barrier assays were performed: Cell proliferation was assessed with cell counting using a hemocytometer; cell apoptosis, induced by either ultraviolet C (UVC) radiation or doxorubicin treatment, was quantified by measuring cleaved caspase 3 (cCASP3) protein levels; and cell migration and barrier function were monitored with electric cell-substrate impedance sensing (ECIS).ZEB1 knockdown in HCEnC-21T cells transfected with siRNA targeting ZEB1 did not result in a significant difference in cell proliferation when compared with control. Although knockdown of ZEB1 in HCEnC-21T cells sensitized the cells to UV-induced apoptosis, ZEB1 knockdown did not alter the cells' susceptibility to doxorubicin-induced apoptosis, as measured with cCASP3 protein levels, compared with controls. Similarly, no difference was observed in cell migration following ZEB1 knockdown. However, cell barrier function increased significantly following ZEB1 knockdown.The corneal endothelium in PPCD3 is characterized by morphologic, anatomic, and molecular features that are more consistent with an epithelial-like rather than an endothelial-like phenotype. Although these characteristics have been well documented, we demonstrate for the first time that susceptibility to UV-induced apoptosis and cell barrier function are significantly altered in the setting of reduced ZEB1. The significance of an altered cellular response to apoptotic stimuli and increased cell barrier function in the pathobiology of PPCD remains to be fully elucidated.
Project description:As the cornea is one of the most transplanted tissues in the body it has placed a burden on the provision of corneas from cadaveric donors. Corneal endothelial dysfunction is the leading indication for cornea transplant. Therefore, tissue engineering is emerging as an alternative approach to overcome the global shortage of transplant-grade corneas. The propagation and expansion of corneal endothelial cells has been widely reported. However, one obstacle to overcome is the transport and storage of corneal endothelial cells. In this study we investigated whether tissue engineered corneal endothelial cells can be preserved in hypothermic conditions. Human corneal endothelial cells (HCEnCs) were exposed to various temperatures (4?°C, 23?°C, and 37?°C) in both adherent and suspension storage models. Optimal storage media and storage duration was tested along with post-storage viability. Following storage and subsequent recovery at 37?°C, cell phenotype was assessed by immunofluorescence, gene and protein expression, and proliferative capacity analysis. Functionality was also assessed within a rabbit model of bullous keratopathy. Our data support our hypothesis that functional HCEnCs can be preserved in hypothermic conditions.
Project description:The aim of this review was to provide an evidenced-based review of the genetic basis of the corneal endothelial dystrophies. A review of the English language peer-reviewed literature describing the molecular genetic basis of posterior polymorphous corneal dystrophy (PPCD), congenital hereditary endothelial dystrophy (CHED), Fuchs endothelial corneal dystrophy (FECD) and X-linked endothelial corneal dystrophy (XECD) was performed. Mutations in several genes have been implicated as playing a pathogenic role in the corneal endothelial dystrophies: VSX1 mutations in PPCD1; COL8A2 mutations in PPCD2 and FECD; ZEB1 mutations in PPCD3 and FECD; and SLC4A11 mutations in CHED2 and FECD. However, linkage, association and familial segregation analyses support a role of only one gene in each corneal endothelial dystrophy: ZEB1 in PPCD3, SLC4A11 in CHED2 and COL8A2 in FECD (early onset). In addition, insufficient evidence exists to consider the autosomal dominant form of CHED (CHED1) as distinct from PPCD. An accurate classification of the corneal endothelial dystrophies requires a critical review of the evidence to support the role of each suggested chromosomal locus, gene and genetic mutation associated with a corneal endothelial dystrophy. Only after the separation of evidence from opinion is performed can a critical examination of the molecular pathways that lead to endothelial dysfunction in each of these disorders be accurately performed.
Project description:<h4>Purpose</h4>To identify the genetic basis of posterior polymorphous corneal dystrophy (PPCD) in families mapped to the PPCD1 locus and in affected individuals without ZEB1 coding region mutations.<h4>Methods</h4>The promoter, 5' UTR, and coding regions of OVOL2 was screened in the PPCD family in which linkage analysis established the PPCD1 locus and in 26 PPCD probands who did not harbor a ZEB1 mutation. Copy number variation (CNV) analysis in the PPCD1 and PPCD3 intervals was performed on DNA samples from eight probands using aCGH. Luciferase reporter assays were performed in human corneal endothelial cells to determine the impact of the identified potentially pathogenic variants on OVOL2 promoter activity.<h4>Results</h4>OVOL2 mutation analysis in the first PPCD1-linked family demonstrated segregation of the c.-307T>C variant with the affected phenotype. In the other 26 probands screened, one heterozygous coding region variant and five promoter region heterozygous variants were identified, though none are likely pathogenic based on allele frequency. Array CGH in the PPCD1 and PPCD3 loci excluded the presence of CNV involving either OVOL2 or ZEB1, respectively. The c.-307T>C variant demonstrated increased promoter activity in corneal endothelial cells when compared to the wild-type sequence as has been demonstrated previously in another cell type.<h4>Conclusions</h4>Previously identified as the cause of PPCD1, the OVOL2 promoter variant c.-307T>C was herein identified in the original family that established the PPCD1 locus. However, the failure to identify presumed pathogenic coding or non-coding OVOL2 or ZEB1 variants, or CNV involving the PPCD1 and PPCD3 loci in 26 other PPCD probands suggests that other genetic loci may be involved in the pathogenesis of PPCD.
Project description:Investigating stimulation of endogenous wound healing in corneal endothelial cells (CECs) may help address the global shortage of donor corneas by decreasing the number of transplants performed for blindness because of endothelial dysfunction. We previously reported that IL-1β stimulation leads to fibroblast growth factor (FGF2) expression, enhancing migration and proliferation of mammalian CECs. However, FGF2 also promotes the endothelial-mesenchymal transition, which can lead to retrocorneal membrane formation and blindness. This prompted us to investigate downstream FGF2 signaling targets that could be manipulated to prevent retrocorneal membrane formation. FGF2 stimulation altered cell morphology and induced expression of mesenchymal transition marker genes such as snail family transcriptional repressor 1 (SNAI1), SNAI2, zinc finger E-box-binding homeobox 1 (ZEB1), and ZEB2 This, in turn, induced expression of fibronectin, vimentin, and type I collagen, and suppressed E-cadherin in CECs in vitro and ex vivo siRNA-mediated SNAI1 knockdown revealed that SNAI1 induces ZEB1 expression, in turn inducing expression of type I collagen, the major component of retrocorneal membranes, and of cyclin-dependent kinase 2 (CDK2) and cyclin E1, promoting cell proliferation. siRNA-mediated knockdown of SNAI1 or ZEB1, but not of CDK2, inhibited FGF2-dependent expression of fibronectin, vimentin, and type I collagen and of suppression of E-cadherin expression. We conclude that SNAI1 is a key regulator of FGF2-dependent mesenchymal transition in human ex vivo corneal endothelium, with ZEB1 regulating type I collagen expression and CDK2 regulating cell proliferation. These results suggest that SNAI1 promotes fibrosis and cell proliferation in human corneal endothelium through ZEB1 and CDK2.
Project description:Fuchs' endothelial dystrophy (FED) is a disease affecting the corneal endothelium. Recent studies reported significant association of polymorphisms in the TCF4 (transcription factor 4) gene, and a borderline association of PTPRG (protein tyrosine phosphatase, receptor type, G) variants with late-onset FED in Caucasians from the United States. Association of TCF4 has also been reported in the Chinese population. We aimed to determine association of the reported polymorphisms in TCF4 and PTPRG, and association of polymorphisms in the candidate genes ZEB1 (zinc-finger E-box binding homoebox 1), COL8A2 (collagen, type VIII, alpha 2), TGFBI (transforming growth factor, ?-induced) and CLU (clusterin) in Australian cases. We also compared the expression of TGFBI and CLU proteins between FED and normal whole corneas. In all, 30 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) from the candidate genes were genotyped in 103 cases and 275 controls. Each SNP and haplotype was assessed for association with the disease. SNP analysis identified an association of TCF4 (rs613872 (P=5.25 × 10(-15), OR=4.05), rs9954153 (P=3.37 × 10(-7), OR=2.58), rs2286812 (P=4.23 × 10(-6), OR=2.55) and rs17595731 (P=3.57 × 10(-5), OR=3.79)), CLU (rs17466684; P=0.003, OR=1.85) and one haplotype of TGFBI SNPs (P=0.011, OR=2.29) with FED in Caucasian Australians. No evidence for genetic association of PTPRG, ZEB1 and COL8A2 was found. Immunohistochemistry showed differential expression of CLU and TGFBI proteins in FED-affected compared with normal corneas. In conclusion, variation in TCF4, CLU and TGFBI, but not PTPRG, ZEB1 and COL8A2 genes are associated with FED in Caucasian Australian cases. Differential expression of CLU and TGFBI proteins in FED-affected corneas provides novel insights into the disease mechanism.
Project description:Purpose: To identify the genetic basis of posterior polymorphous corneal dystrophy (PPCD) in families mapped to the PPCD1 locus and in affected individuals without ZEB1 coding region mutations. Methods: The promoter and/or coding regions of OVOL2 were screened in the PPCD family in which linkage analysis established the PPCD1 locus and in 26 PPCD probands who did not harbor a ZEB1 mutation. Copy number variation (CNV) analysis in the PPCD1 and PPCD3 intervals was performed on DNA samples from eight probands using aCGH. Luciferase reporter assays were performed in human corneal endothelial cells to determine the impact of the identified potentially pathogenic variants on OVOL2 promoter activity. Results: OVOL2 screening in the first PPCD1-linked family demonstrated segregation of the c.-307T>C variant with the affected phenotype. In the other 26 probands screened, one heterozygous coding region variant and five promoter region heterozygous variants were identified, though none are likely pathogenic based on allele frequency. Array CGH in the PPCD1 and PPCD3 loci excluded the presence of CNV involving either OVOL2 or ZEB1, respectively. The c.-307T>C variant demonstrated increased promoter activity when compared to the wild-type sequence. Conclusions: The previously identified and presumed pathogenic OVOL2 promoter variant c.-307T>C was identified in the PPCD family that established the PPCD1 locus. However, the failure to identify presumed pathogenic coding or non-coding OVOL2 or ZEB1 variants, or CNV involving the PPCD1 and PPCD3 loci in 26 other PPCD probands suggests that other genetic loci may be involved in the pathogenesis of PPCD. Overall design: Eight PPCD probands without a ZEB1 protein-coding region pathogenic variant were analyzed for copy number variation within the PPCD1 (chromosome 20) and the PPCD3 (chromosome 10) loci.