Genome-wide analysis suggests a differential microRNA signature associated with normal and diabetic human corneal limbus.
ABSTRACT: Small non-coding RNAs, in particular microRNAs (miRNAs), regulate fine-tuning of gene expression and can impact a wide range of biological processes. However, their roles in normal and diseased limbal epithelial stem cells (LESC) remain unknown. Using deep sequencing analysis, we investigated miRNA expression profiles in central and limbal regions of normal and diabetic human corneas. We identified differentially expressed miRNAs in limbus vs. central cornea in normal and diabetic (DM) corneas including both type 1 (T1DM/IDDM) and type 2 (T2DM/NIDDM) diabetes. Some miRNAs such as miR-10b that was upregulated in limbus vs. central cornea and in diabetic vs. normal limbus also showed significant increase in T1DM vs. T2DM limbus. Overexpression of miR-10b increased Ki-67 staining in human organ-cultured corneas and proliferation rate in cultured corneal epithelial cells. MiR-10b transfected human organ-cultured corneas showed downregulation of PAX6 and DKK1 and upregulation of keratin 17 protein expression levels. In summary, we report for the first time differential miRNA signatures of T1DM and T2DM corneal limbus harboring LESC and show that miR-10b could be involved in the LESC maintenance and/or their early differentiation. Furthermore, miR-10b upregulation may be an important mechanism of corneal diabetic alterations especially in the T1DM patients.
Project description:To investigate whether the protection of corneal limbus from riboflavin exposure during collagen cross-linking (CXL) prevents limbal epithelial stem cell (LESC) loss.Ten New Zealand white rabbits received an epithelium-off CXL using an accelerated protocol. Seven days before procedure, 5-bromo-2-deoxyuridine (BrdU) was intraperitoneally injected. During procedure, riboflavin was applied to the corneal surface within a 9?mm diameter retention ring in 5 rabbits, thereby preventing the limbus from riboflavin exposure. In other 5 rabbits, riboflavin was instilled every 2?min, allowing the spillover to the limbus. One day after UVA irradiation, corneas were subjected to histological and molecular assays.There were no differences in corneal thickness and epithelial healing between the groups. The numbers of BrdU-labelled and p63+ limbal epithelial cells were markedly reduced in the group without a ring, but significantly increased when a ring was used. Robust expression of CK3/12 was observed in the limbal epithelium in the group with a ring. The mRNA levels of ABCG2, FGF2, IL-1?, and IL-6 were significantly increased in the corneas with a ring.Protection of limbus from riboflavin during CXL was effective in preserving LESCs. However, inflammation was increased in the cornea treated with riboflavin using a ring.
Project description:Limbal epithelial stem cells (LESCs) play important roles in corneal epithelial homeostasis and regeneration, and damage to the limbus will lead to limbal stem cell deficiency (LSCD), with conjunctivalization and even visual impairment. Cultured LESCs have been used for ocular surface reconstruction, and silk fibroin (SF) membranes have shown potential as a substrate for LESC cultivation. Both culture methods and the carriers of LESCs affect outcomes following LESC transplantation.Rabbit LESCs were cultured from tissue explant, single cell-suspension, and cell cluster culture methods. Ratios of p63? and/or ABCB5-positive LESCs, differentiated corneal epithelial cells (CK12 staining), and corneal tight junction formation (Claudin-1 staining) were examined to choose the most applicable LESC cultures. SF membranes were prepared and modified by 400-Da poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG). The characteristics of stem cells and normal corneal differentiation of LESCs cultured on PEG-modified SF membranes were further examined by immunofluorescence staining and flow cytometric analysis. LESCs cultured on PEG-modified SF membranes (LESC/SF grafts) and PEG-modified SF membranes (SF grafts) were transplanted onto rabbit corneas with total LSCD. New blood vessels, corneal epithelial defects, and cornea clarity were examined after transplantation. Furthermore, corneal epithelial thickness, stromal thickness, and the percentage area of CK12-positive corneal epithelium were quantified 4 months after transplantation.Tissue explant and single cell-suspension cultures harvested more p63? and/or ABCB5-positive LESCs, generated more CK12-positive corneal epithelial cells, and formed more corneal tight junctions than cell cluster cultures. Prepared PEG-modified SF membranes were transparent, flexible, and sturdy enough for surgical manipulation. LESCs cultured on PEG-modified SF membranes maintained characteristics of stem cells and normal corneal differentiation. LESC/SF grafts inhibited new blood vessels and rescued corneal epithelial defects in the rabbit total LSCD model. In addition, LESC/SF grafts repopulated the limbus and increased corneal epithelial thickness, stromal thickness, and the area percentage of CK12-positive corneal epithelium.LESCs from tissue explant and single cell-suspension cultures were more applicable corneal epithelial cells for ocular surface reconstruction. LESC/SF grafts repaired corneal epithelial defects and reversed LSCD, and PEG-modified SF membranes were suitable to be a carrier for LESC transplantation.
Project description:Limbal epithelial stem cell (LESC) deficiency (LSCD) leads to corneal abnormalities resulting in compromised vision and blindness. LSCD can be potentially treated by transplantation of appropriate cells, which should be easily expandable and bankable. Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) are a promising source of transplantable LESCs. The purpose of this study was to generate human iPSCs and direct them to limbal differentiation by maintaining them on natural substrata mimicking the native LESC niche, including feederless denuded human amniotic membrane (HAM) and de-epithelialized corneas. These iPSCs were generated with nonintegrating vectors from human primary limbal epithelial cells. This choice of parent cells was supposed to enhance limbal cell differentiation from iPSCs by partial retention of parental epigenetic signatures in iPSCs. When the gene methylation patterns were compared in iPSCs to parental LESCs using Illumina global methylation arrays, limbal-derived iPSCs had fewer unique methylation changes than fibroblast-derived iPSCs, suggesting retention of epigenetic memory during reprogramming. Limbal iPSCs cultured for 2 weeks on HAM developed markedly higher expression of putative LESC markers ABCG2, ?Np63?, keratins 14, 15, and 17, N-cadherin, and TrkA than did fibroblast iPSCs. On HAM culture, the methylation profiles of select limbal iPSC genes (including NTRK1, coding for TrkA protein) became closer to the parental cells, but fibroblast iPSCs remained closer to parental fibroblasts. On denuded air-lifted corneas, limbal iPSCs even upregulated differentiated corneal keratins 3 and 12. These data emphasize the importance of the natural niche and limbal tissue of origin in generating iPSCs as a LESC source with translational potential for LSCD treatment.
Project description:Homeostasis and regeneration of corneal epithelia are sustained by limbal epithelial stem cells (LESCs); thus, an LESC deficiency is a major cause of blindness worldwide. Despite the generally promising results of cultivated LESC transplantation, it has been limited by variations in long-term success rates, the use of xenogeneic and undefined culture components, and a scarcity of donor tissues. In this study, we identified the culture conditions required to expand LESCs in vitro and established human limbus-derived highly proliferative ABCG2+/ABCB5+ double-positive LESCs. These LESCs exhibited the LESC marker profile and differentiated into corneal epithelial cells. In addition, cultured LESCs expressed high levels of the stem cell markers Sox2, Oct4, c-Myc, and Klf4, had high telomerase activity, and had stable, normal genomes. These results suggest that our novel cultivation protocol affects the phenotype and differentiation capacity of LESCs. From the limbus, which contains a heterogenous cell population, we have derived highly proliferative ABCG2+/ABCB5+ double-positive cells with the ability to differentiate into corneal epithelial cells. This study opens a new avenue for investigation of the molecular mechanism of LESC maintenance and expansion in vitro and may impact the treatment of corneal disease, particularly corneal blindness due to an LESC deficiency.
Project description:Limbal epithelial stem cells (LESC) maintenance requires communication between stem cells and neighboring stromal keratocytes. Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are important for intercellular communication in various stem cell niches. We explored the regulatory roles of limbal stromal cell (LSC)-derived exosomes (Exos), an EV sub-population, in limbal epithelial cells (LEC) in normal and diabetic limbal niche and determined differences in Exo cargos from normal and diabetic LSC. Wound healing and proliferation rates in primary normal LEC were significantly enhanced upon treatment by normal Exos (N-Exos), but not by diabetic Exos (DM-Exos). Western analysis showed increased Akt phosphorylation in wounded LECs and organ-cultured corneas treated with N-Exos, compared to untreated wounded cells and DM-Exos treated fellow corneas, respectively. N-Exos treated organ-cultured corneas showed upregulation of putative LESC markers, keratin 15 (K15) and Frizzled-7, compared to the DM-Exos treated fellow corneas. By next generation sequencing, we identified differentially expressed small RNAs including microRNAs in DM-Exos vs. N-Exos. Overall, N-Exos have greater effect on LEC proliferation and wound healing than DM-Exos, likely by activating Akt signaling. The small RNA differences in Exos from diabetic vs. normal LSC could contribute to the disease state. Our study suggests that exosomes may serve as novel therapeutic tools for diabetic cornea.
Project description:We studied the reproducibility and stability of limbal stem cell deficiency (LSCD) in mice following controlled injuries to the corneal and limbal epithelia. In one method, corneal and limbal epithelia were entirely removed with a 0.5 mm metal burr. In the other, limbus to limbus epithelial removal with the burr was followed by thermal injury to the limbus. These two methods were compared with a previously published one. Unwounded corneas were used as control. The corneas were examined monthly for three months by slit lamp with fluorescein staining. Immunofluorescence staining for cytokeratin 12 and 8 on corneal wholemount and cross sections were performed to determine the phenotype of the epithelium. Mechanical shaving of the epithelium, with or without thermal injury, resulted in a reproducible state of LSCD marked by superficial neovascularization, reduce of keratin 12 expression and presence of goblet cells on the cornea. The phenotype was stable in 100% of the eyes up to at least three months. Thermal injury produced a more severe phenotype with more significant stromal opacification. These corneal injury models may be useful for studying the mechanisms leading to limbal stem cell deficiency.
Project description:The limbal epithelial stem cell (LESC) hypothesis proposes that LESCs in the corneal limbus maintain the corneal epithelium both during normal homeostasis and wound repair. The alternative corneal epithelial stem cell (CESC) hypothesis proposes that LESCs are only involved in wound repair and CESCs in the corneal epithelium itself maintain the corneal epithelium during normal homeostasis. We used tamoxifen-inducible, CreER-loxP lineage tracing to distinguish between these hypotheses. Clones of labelled cells were induced in adult CAGG-CreER;R26R-LacZ reporter mice and their distributions analysed after different chase periods. Short-lived clones, derived from labelled transient amplifying cells, were shed during the chase period and long-lived clones, derived from stem cells, expanded. At 6 weeks, labelled clones appeared at the periphery, extended centripetally as radial stripes and a few reached the centre by 14 weeks. Stripe numbers depended on the age of tamoxifen treatment. Stripes varied in length, some were discontinuous, few reached the centre and almost half had one end at the limbus. Similar stripes extended across the cornea in CAGG-CreER;R26R-mT/mG reporter mice. The distributions of labelled clones are inconsistent with the CESC hypothesis and support the LESC hypothesis if LESCs cycle between phases of activity and quiescence, each lasting several weeks.
Project description:Limbal epithelial stem cell (LESC) deficiency represents a significant clinical problem especially in bilateral cases. Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) may be a promising source of LESC, allowing standardized and continual propagation and banking. The objective of this study was to generate iPSC from human limbal epithelial cultures and differentiate them back into limbal epithelial cells using substrata mimicking the natural LESC niche. Using Yamanaka’s episomal vectors limbal-derived iPSC were reprogrammed from LESC cultured from donor corneoscleral rims and from human skin fibroblasts. A clone from limbal-derived iPSC expressed stemness markers, had a diploid karyotype, and produced teratomas in nude mice representing three germ layers. Compared to parental LESC, this clone had fewer specific gene methylation changes revealed using the Illumina Infinium Methylation 450k Beadchips than compared to skin fibroblasts. The expression of putative LESC markers was examined by quantitative RT-PCR and immunostaining in limbal-derived and fibroblast-derived iPSC cultured on denuded human amniotic membrane or denuded cornea. Limbal-derived iPSC had markedly stronger expression of PAX6, ABCG2, Np63, keratins 14, 15, 17, and N-cadherin than fibroblast-derived iPSC. On denuded corneas, limbal-derived iPSC showed the expression of differentiated corneal keratins 3 and 12. The data suggest that iPSC differentiation to a desired lineage may be facilitated by their generation from the same tissue. This may be related to preservation of parental tissue epigenetic methylation signatures in iPSC and use of biological substrata similar to the natural niche of parental cells. The data pave the way for generating transplantable LESC from limbal-derived iPSC. Overall design: Bisulphite converted DNA from the 12 samples were hybridised to the Illumina Infinium 450k Human Methylation Beadchip
Project description:Limbal epithelial stem cell (LESC) deficiency represents a significant clinical problem especially in bilateral cases. Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) may be a promising source of LESC, allowing standardized and continual propagation and banking. The objective of this study was to generate iPSC from human limbal epithelial cultures and differentiate them back into limbal epithelial cells using substrata mimicking the natural LESC niche. Using Yamanaka’s episomal vectors limbal-derived iPSC were reprogrammed from LESC cultured from donor corneoscleral rims and from human skin fibroblasts. A clone from limbal-derived iPSC expressed stemness markers, had a diploid karyotype, and produced teratomas in nude mice representing three germ layers. Compared to parental LESC, this clone had fewer specific gene methylation changes revealed using the Illumina Infinium Methylation 450k Beadchips than compared to skin fibroblasts. The expression of putative LESC markers was examined by quantitative RT-PCR and immunostaining in limbal-derived and fibroblast-derived iPSC cultured on denuded human amniotic membrane or denuded cornea. Limbal-derived iPSC had markedly stronger expression of PAX6, ABCG2, Np63, keratins 14, 15, 17, and N-cadherin than fibroblast-derived iPSC. On denuded corneas, limbal-derived iPSC showed the expression of differentiated corneal keratins 3 and 12. The data suggest that iPSC differentiation to a desired lineage may be facilitated by their generation from the same tissue. This may be related to preservation of parental tissue epigenetic methylation signatures in iPSC and use of biological substrata similar to the natural niche of parental cells. The data pave the way for generating transplantable LESC from limbal-derived iPSC. Bisulphite converted DNA from the 12 samples were hybridised to the Illumina Infinium 450k Human Methylation Beadchip
Project description:Limbal epithelial stem cells (LESCs) are essential to maintain the transparent ocular surface required for vision. Despite great advances in our understanding of ocular stem cell biology over the last decade, the exact location of the LESC niche remains unclear. In the present study we have used in vitro clonal analysis to confirm that limbal crypts provide a niche for the resident LESCs. We have used high-resolution imaging of the basal epithelial layer at the limbus to identify cells with a morphology consistent with stem cells that were only present within the basal layer of the limbal crypts. These cells are proximal to limbal stromal cells suggesting direct cell-to-cell interaction. Serial block-face scanning electron microscopy (SBFSEM) confirmed that the putative LESCs are indeed in direct contact with cells in the underlying stroma, a contact that is facilitated by focal basement membrane interruptions. Limbal mesenchymal cells previously identified in the human limbus collocate in the crypt-rich limbal stromal area in the vicinity of LESCs and may be involved in the cell-to-cell contact revealed by SBFSEM. We also observed a high population of melanocytes within the basal layer of the limbal crypts. From these observations we present a three dimensional reconstruction of the LESC niche in which the stem cell is closely associated and maintained by both dendritic pigmented limbal melanocytes and elongated limbal stromal cells.