Elucidating the molecular basis of PPCD: Effects of decreased ZEB1 expression on corneal endothelial cell function.
ABSTRACT: 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: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 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:Human corneal endothelial cells (HCEnCs) form a monolayer of hexagonal cells whose main function is to maintain corneal clarity by regulating corneal hydration. HCEnCs are derived from neural crest and are arrested in the post-mitotic state. Thus cell loss due to aging or corneal endothelial disorders leads to corneal edema and blindness-the leading indication for corneal transplantation. Here we show the existence of morphologically distinct subpopulations of HCEnCs that are interspersed among primary cells and exhibit enhanced self-renewal competence and lack of phenotypic signs of cellular senescence. Colonies of these uniform and hexagonal HCEnCs (HCEnC-21) were selectively isolated and demonstrated high proliferative potential that was dependent on endogenous upregulation of telomerase and cyclin D/CDK4. Further transduction of HCEnC-21 with telomerase yielded a highly proliferative corneal endothelial cell line (HCEnT-21T) that was devoid of oncogenic transformation and retained critical corneal endothelial cell characteristics and functionality. This study will significantly impact the fields of corneal cell biology and regenerative medicine.
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:In a large family of Czech origin, we mapped a locus for an autosomal-dominant corneal endothelial dystrophy, posterior polymorphous corneal dystrophy 4 (PPCD4), to 8q22.3-q24.12. Whole-genome sequencing identified a unique variant (c.20+544G>T) in this locus, within an intronic regulatory region of GRHL2. Targeted sequencing identified the same variant in three additional previously unsolved PPCD-affected families, including a de novo occurrence that suggests this is a recurrent mutation. Two further unique variants were identified in intron 1 of GRHL2 (c.20+257delT and c.20+133delA) in unrelated PPCD-affected families. GRHL2 is a transcription factor that suppresses epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and is a direct transcriptional repressor of ZEB1. ZEB1 mutations leading to haploinsufficiency cause PPCD3. We previously identified promoter mutations in OVOL2, a gene not normally expressed in the corneal endothelium, as the cause of PPCD1. OVOL2 drives mesenchymal-to-epithelial transition (MET) by directly inhibiting EMT-inducing transcription factors, such as ZEB1. Here, we demonstrate that the GRHL2 regulatory variants identified in PPCD4-affected individuals induce increased transcriptional activity in vitro. Furthermore, although GRHL2 is not expressed in corneal endothelial cells in control tissue, we detected GRHL2 in the corneal "endothelium" in PPCD4 tissue. These cells were also positive for epithelial markers E-Cadherin and Cytokeratin 7, indicating they have transitioned to an epithelial-like cell type. We suggest that mutations inducing MET within the corneal endothelium are a convergent pathogenic mechanism leading to dysfunction of the endothelial barrier and disease.
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:The corneal endothelium plays a primary role in maintaining corneal homeostasis and clarity and must be surgically replaced with allogenic donor corneal endothelium in the event of visually significant dysfunction. However, a worldwide shortage of donor corneal tissue has led to a search for alternative sources of transplantable tissue. Cultured human corneal endothelial cells (HCEnC) have been shown to restore corneal clarity in experimental models of corneal endothelial dysfunction in animal models, but characterization of cultured HCEnC remains incomplete. To this end, we utilized next-generation RNA sequencing technology to compare the transcriptomic profile of ex vivo human corneal endothelial cells (evHCEnC) with that of primary HCEnC (pHCEnC) and HCEnC lines and to determine the utility of cultured and immortalized corneal endothelial cells as models of in vivo corneal endothelium. Multidimensional analyses of the transcriptome data sets demonstrated that primary HCEnC have a closer relationship to evHCEnC than do immortalized HCEnC. Subsequent analyses showed that the majority of the genes specifically expressed in HCEnC (not expressed in ex vivo corneal epithelium or fibroblasts) demonstrated a marked variability of expression in cultured cells compared with evHCEnC. In addition, genes associated with either corneal endothelial cell function or corneal endothelial dystrophies were investigated. Significant differences in gene expression and protein levels were observed in the cultured cells compared with evHCEnC for each of the genes tested except for AGBL1 and LOXHD1, which were not detected by RNA-seq or qPCR. Our transcriptomic analysis suggests that at a molecular level pHCEnC most closely resemble evHCEnC and thus represent the most viable cell culture-based therapeutic option for managing corneal endothelial cell dysfunction. Our findings also suggest that investigators should perform an assessment of the entire transcriptome of cultured HCEnC prior to determination of their potential clinical utility for the management of corneal endothelial cell failure.
Project description:Corneal transplantation is the primary treatment option to restore vision for patients with corneal endothelial blindness. Although the success rate of treatment is high, limited availability of transplant grade corneas is a major obstacle. Tissue-engineered corneal endothelial grafts constructed using cultivated human corneal endothelial cells (hCENC) isolated from cadaveric corneas may serve as a potential graft source. Currently, tools for the characterization of cultured hCENC and enrichment of hCENC from potential contaminating cells such as stromal fibroblasts are lacking. In this study, we describe the generation and characterization of novel cell surface monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) specific for hCENC. These mAbs could be used for enrichment and characterization of hCENC. Out of a total of 389 hybridomas, TAG-1A3 and TAG-2A12 were found to be specific to the corneal endothelial monolayer by immunostaining of frozen tissue sections. Both mAbs were able to clearly identify hCENC with good 'cobblestone-like' morphology from multiple donors. The antigen targets for TAG-1A3 and TAG-2A12 were found to be CD166/ALCAM and Peroxiredoxin-6 (Prdx-6), respectively, both of which have not been previously described as markers of hCENC. Additionally, unlike other Prdx-6 mAbs, TAG-2A12 was found to specifically bind cell surface Prdx-6, which was only expressed on hCENC and not on other cell types screened such as human corneal stromal fibroblasts (hCSF) and human pluripotent stem cells (hPSC). From our studies, we conclude that TAG-1A3 and TAG-2A12 are promising tools to quantitatively assess hCENC quality. It is also noteworthy that the binding specificity of TAG-2A12 could be used for the enrichment of hCENC from cell mixtures of hCSF and hPSC.
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.
Project description:Name of the disease (synonyms) CUGC for posterior polymorphous corneal dystrophy (PPCD).OMIM# of the disease 122000; 609141; 618031.Name of the analysed genes or DNA/chromosome segments OVOL2 (PPCD1); ZEB1 (PPCD3); GRHL2 (PPCD4).OMIM# of the gene(s) 616441; 189909; 608576. Review of the analytical and clinical validity as well as of the clinical utility of DNA-based testing for variants in theOVOL2, ZEB1andGRHL2gene(s) in a diagnostic setting, predictive and parental settings and for risk assesment in relatives.