Transcriptome-Wide Analysis of CXCR5 Deficient Retinal Pigment Epithelial (RPE) Cells Reveals Molecular Signatures of RPE Homeostasis.
ABSTRACT: Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the most common cause of irreversible blindness in the elderly population. In our previous studies, we found that deficiency of CXCR5 causes AMD-like pathological phenotypes in mice, characterized by abnormalities and dysfunction of the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) cells. The abnormalities included abnormal cellular shape and impaired barrier function. In the present study, primary RPE cells were derived separately from CXCR5 knockout (KO) mice and from C57BL6 wild type (WT). The isolated primary cells were cultured for several days, and then total RNA was isolated and used for library preparation, sequencing, and the resultant raw data analyzed. Relative to the WT, a total of 1392 differentially expressed genes (DEG) were identified. Gene ontology analysis showed various biological processes, cellular components, and molecular functions were enriched. Pathway enrichment analysis revealed several pathways, including the PI3K-Akt signaling, mTOR signaling, FoxO, focal adhesion, endocytosis, ubiquitin-mediated proteolysis, TNF?-NF-kB Signaling, adipogenesis genes, p53 signaling, Ras, autophagy, epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), and mitochondrial pathway. This study explores molecular signatures associated with deficiency of CXCR5 in RPE cells. Many of these signatures are important for homeostasis of this tissue. The identified pathways and genes require further evaluation to better understand the pathophysiology of AMD.
Project description:Previous research has shown that CXCR5-/- mice develop retinal degeneration (RD) with age, a characteristic related to age macular degeneration (AMD). RD in these mice is not well-understood, and in this study, we sought to characterize further the RD phenotype and to gain mechanistic insights into the function of CXCR5 in the retina. CXCR5-/- and WT control mice were used. Fundus images demonstrated a significant (p < 0.001) increase of hypo-pigmented spots in the retina of aged CXCR5-/- mice compared with WT control mice. PAS staining indicated localization of deposits in the sub-retinal pigment epithelia (RPE) layer. AMD-associated proteins Cryab, amyloid beta, and C3d were detected within the RPE/sub-RPE tissues by immunofluorescence (IF). In addition, western blot analysis of COX-2, Arg1, and VEGF-a revealed an increase in the signaling of these molecules within the RPE/choroid complex. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) indicated a drusen-like structure of sub-RPE deposits with an accumulation of vacuolated cellular debris. Loss of photoreceptors was detected by peanut lectin staining and was corroborated by a reduction in MAP2 signaling. Loss of blood-retinal barrier integrity was demonstrated by a reduction of ZO-1 expression. Inflammatory cells were detected in the sub-RPE space, with an increase in IBA-1 positive microglia cells on the surface of the RPE. Mass spectrometry analysis of CXCR5-/- mouse RPE/choroid proteins extracts, separated by SDS-page and incubated with autologous serum, identified autoantibodies against AMD-associated proteins: Cryaa, Cryab, and Anxa2. In vitro evaluations in BV-2 cell culture indicated a significant increase in production of Arg-1 (p < 0.001) and COX-2 (p < 0.01) in the presence of anti-CXCR5 antibody when compared with Igg-treated control BV-2 cells stimulated with IL-4 and TNF?/IFN?, respectively. Anti-CXCR5 antibody treatment without stimulating agents did not affect Arg-1 and COX-2 expression; this suggests that CXCR5 may have a regulatory role in microglia cells activation. These results indicate that with age, CXCR5-/- mice develop RD characterized by microglia dysfunction, increased production of CXCL13 in the RPE progressive photoreceptor, neuronal loss, and sub-RPE deposition of cellular debris, resulting in the production of immunogenic proteins and autoimmune-mediated RD.
Project description:The role of chemokine receptor in age-related macular degeneration (AMD) remains elusive. The objective of this study is to investigate the role of chemokine receptor Cxcr5 in the pathogenesis of AMD. Cxcr5 gene expression levels (mRNA and protein) are higher in the retina and retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) of aged C57BL/6 wild type mice than younger ones. Vascular and glial cells express Cxcr5 and its ligand Cxcl13 in mouse retina. Aged Cxcr5 knockout (-/-) mice develop both early and late AMD-like pathological features. White and yellow spots, which look like drusen in humans, were identified with fundscopic examination. Drusen-like sub-RPE deposits with dome-shaped morphology were characterized on the sections. RPE vacuolization, swelling, and sub-RPE basal deposits were illustrated with light and transmission electron microscope (TEM). TEM further illustrated degenerated and disorganized RPE basal infoldings, phagosomes and melanosomes inside RPE, as well as abnormal photoreceptor outer segments. Lipofuscin granules and lipid droplets in the subretinal space, RPE, and choroid were revealed with fluorescence microscope and oil-red-O staining. Increased IgG in RPE/choroid were determined with Western blots (WB). WB and immunofluorescence staining determined RPE zona occuldens (ZO)-1 protein reduction and abnormal subcellular localization. TUNEL staining, outer nuclear layer (ONL) measurement and electroretinogram (ERG) recording indicated that photoreceptors underwent apoptosis, degeneration, and functional impairment. Additionally, spontaneous neovascularization (NV)-like lesions develop in the subretinal space of aged Cxcr5-/- mice. The underlying mechanisms are associated with increased subretinal F4/80+ immune cells, some of which contain RPE marker RPE65, and up-regulation of the multifunctional cytokine tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-?) in RPE/choroid and retina. These findings suggest that Cxcr5 itself may be involved in the protection of RPE and retinal cells during aging and its loss may lead to AMD-like pathological changes in aged mice.
Project description:The CXCR5 (C-X-C motif chemokine receptor 5) is chemokine transmembrane receptor, acting via its ligand CXCL13 and plays a crucial role in controlling the trafficking of inflammatory cells into and from the sub-retinal space, which contributes to the pathogenesis of AMD. We have previously described the genetic ablation of CXCR5 deficiency causes RPE/choroid abnormalities and retinal degeneration (RD) in aged mice. Here we report the transcriptome data (RNA-Seq) of 24 months old CXCR5 knockout (KO) and age-matched C57BL/6 controls (WT). RNA sequencing was performed on the Illumina HiSeq 2500, providing up to 300 GB of sequence information per flow cell. The quality of RNA-seq libraries, RNA intensity were validated by Agilent Technologies Bioanalyzer-2100. The raw datasets contains on average 292,004,59 reads (after trimming 284,862,43 reads) in retina and 272,527,90 reads (after trimming 266,173,11 reads) in choroid samples. The mapped reads showed that a total of 1586 genes in retina and 1462 genes in choroid are differentially expressed in this experiment. The raw datasets were deposited into NCBI Sequence Read Archive (SRA) database and can be accessed via accession number PRJNA588421.
Project description:Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of vision loss in the western world. Recent evidence suggests that RPE and photoreceptors have an interconnected metabolism and that mitochondrial damage in RPE is a trigger for degeneration in both RPE and photoreceptors in AMD. To test this hypothesis, this study was designed to induce mitochondrial damage in RPE in mice to determine whether this is sufficient to cause RPE and photoreceptor damage characteristic of AMD. In this study, we conditionally deleted the gene encoding the mitochondrial antioxidant enzyme, manganese superoxide dismutase (MnSOD encoded by Sod2) in the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) of albino BALB/cJ mice. VMD2-Cre;Sod2flox/flox BALB/cJ mice were housed in either 12-h dark, 12-h 200 lux white lighting (normal light), or 12-h dark, 12-h <10 lux red lighting (dim light). Electroretinography (ERG) and spectral-domain optical coherence tomography (SD-OCT) were performed to assess retinal function and morphology. Immunofluorescence was used to examine protein expression; quantitative RT-PCR was used to measure gene expression. Sod2 knockout (KO) mice had reduced RPE function with age and increased oxidative stress compared to wild type (WT) controls as expected by the cell-specific deletion of Sod2. This was associated with alterations in RPE morphology and the structure and function of RPE mitochondria. In addition, data show a compensatory increase in RPE glycolytic metabolism. The metabolic shift in RPE correlated with severe disruption of photoreceptor mitochondria including a reduction in TOMM20 expression, mitochondrial fragmentation, and reduced COXIII/β-actin levels. These findings demonstrate that mitochondrial oxidative stress can lead to RPE dysfunction and metabolic reprogramming of RPE. Secondary to these changes, photoreceptors also undergo metabolic stress with increased mitochondrial damage. These data are consistent with the hypothesis of a linked metabolism between RPE and photoreceptors and suggest a mechanism of retinal degeneration in dry AMD.
Project description:Increasing evidence has indicated that long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) play significant roles in various diseases; however, their roles in age-related macular degeneration (AMD) remain unclear. Dedifferentiation and dysfunction of retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) cells have been shown to contribute to AMD etiology in several studies. Herein, we found that lncRNA LINC00167 was downregulated in RPE-choroid samples of AMD patients and dysfunctional RPE cells, and it was consistently upregulated along with RPE differentiation. In vitro study indicated that reduced endogenous LINC00167 expression resulted in RPE dedifferentiation, which was typified by attenuated expression of RPE markers, reduced vascular endothelial growth factor A secretion, accumulation of mitochondrial reactive oxygen species, and interrupted phagocytic ability. Mechanistically, LINC00167 functioned as a sponge for microRNA miR-203a-3p to restore the expression of the suppressor of cytokine signaling 3 (SOCS3), which further inhibited the Janus kinase (JAK)/signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT) signaling pathway. Taken together, our study demonstrated that LINC00167 showed a protective role in AMD by maintaining RPE differentiation through the LINC00167/miR-203a-3p/SOCS3 axis and might be a potential therapeutic target for AMD.
Project description:Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the major cause of non-preventable blindness. Severe forms of AMD involve breaching of the retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) barrier by underlying choroidal endothelial cells (CECs), followed by migration into, and subsequent neovascularization of the neurosensory retina. However, little is known about the interactions between RPE and CECs and the signaling events leading to CEC transmigration. While soluble chemotactic factors secreted from RPE can contribute to inappropriate CEC transmigration, other unidentified stimuli may play an additional role. Using a coculture model that maintains the natural structural orientation of CECs to the basal aspect of RPE, we show that "contact" with RPE and/or RPE extracellular matrix increases CEC transmigration of the RPE barrier. From a biochemical standpoint, contact between CECs and RPE results in an increase in the activity of the GTPase Rac1 within the CECs; this increase is dependent on upstream activation of PI 3-K and Akt1. To confirm a link between these signaling molecules and increased CEC transmigration, we performed transmigration assays while inhibiting both PI 3-K and Rac1 activity, and observed that both decreased CEC transmigration. We hypothesize that contact between CECs and RPE stimulates a signaling pathway involving PI 3-K, Akt1, and Rac1 that facilitates CEC transmigration across the RPE barrier, an important step in the development of neovascular AMD.
Project description:Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a devastating neurodegenerative disease and a major cause of blindness in the developed world. Owing to its complexity and the lack of an adequate human model that recapitulates key aspects of the disease, the molecular mechanisms of AMD pathogenesis remain poorly understood. Here we show that cultured human retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) from AMD donors (AMD RPE) are functionally impaired and exhibit distinct phenotypes compared with RPE cultured from normal donors (normal RPE). Accumulation of lipid droplets and glycogen granules, disintegration of mitochondria, and an increase in autophagosomes were observed in AMD RPE cultures. Compared with normal RPE, AMD RPE exhibit increased susceptibility to oxidative stress, produce higher levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS) under stress conditions, and showed reduced mitochondrial activity. Measurement of the ratio of LC3-II/ LC3-I, revealed impaired autophagy in AMD RPE as compared with normal RPE. Autophagic flux was also reduced in AMD RPE as compared with normal RPE, as shown by inability of AMD RPE to downregulate p62 levels during starvation. Impaired autophagic pathways were further shown by analyzing late autophagic vesicles; immunostaining with lysosome-associated membrane protein 1 (LAMP-1) antibody revealed enlarged and annular LAMP-1-positive organelles in AMD RPE as opposed to smaller discrete puncta observed in normal RPE. Our study provides insights into AMD cellular and molecular mechanisms, proposes dysfunctional autophagy as an underlying mechanism contributing to the pathophysiology of the disease, and opens up new avenues for development of novel treatment strategies.
Project description:AMD is the leading cause of blindness in developed countries. The dry form of AMD, also known as atrophic AMD, is characterized by the death of RPE and photoreceptors. Currently, there are no treatments for this form of the disease due in part to our incomplete understanding of the mechanism causing AMD. Strong experimental evidence from studies of human donors with AMD supports the emerging hypothesis that defects in RPE mitochondria drive AMD pathology. These studies, using different experimental methods, have shown disrupted RPE mitochondrial architecture and decreased mitochondrial number and mass, altered content of multiple mitochondrial proteins, increased mitochondrial DNA damage that correlates with disease severity, and defects in bioenergetics for primary RPE cultures from AMD donors. Herein, we discuss a model of metabolic uncoupling that alters bioenergetics in the diseased retina and drives AMD pathology. These data provide the rationale for targeting the mitochondria in the RPE as the most efficacious intervention strategy if administered early, before vision loss and cell death.
Project description:Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a multifactorial chronic disease that requires long term treatment. Gene therapy is being considered as a promising tool to treat AMD. We found that increased activation of Rap1a in the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) reduces oxidative signaling to maintain barrier integrity of the RPE and resist neural sensory retinal angiogenesis from choroidal endothelial cell invasion. To optimally deliver constitutively active Rap1a (CARap1a) into the RPE of wild type mice, self-complementary AAV2 (scAAV2) vectors driven by two different promoters, RPE65 or VMD2, were generated and tested for optimal active Rap1a expression and inhibition of choroidal neovascularization (CNV) induced by laser injury. scAAV2-VMD2, but not scAAV2-RPE65, specifically and efficiently transduced the RPE to increase active Rap1a protein in the RPE. Mice with increased Rap1a from the scAAV2-VMD2-CARap1a had a significant reduction in CNV compared to controls. Increased active Rap1a in the RPE in vivo or in vitro inhibited inflammatory and angiogenic signaling determined by decreased activation of NF-?B and expression of VEGF without causing increased cell death or autophagy measured by increased LCA3/B. Our study provides a potential future strategy to deliver active Rap1a to the RPE in order to protect against both atrophic and neovascular AMD.
Project description:The disruption of the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE), for example, through oxidative damage, is a common factor underlying age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Aberrant autophagy also contributes to AMD pathology, as autophagy maintains RPE homeostasis to ensure blood-retinal barrier (BRB) integrity and protect photoreceptors. Thioredoxin-interacting protein (TXNIP) promotes cellular oxidative stress by inhibiting thioredoxin reducing capacity and is in turn inversely regulated by reactive oxygen species levels; however, its role in oxidative stress-induced RPE cell dysfunction and the mechanistic link between TXNIP and autophagy are largely unknown. Here, we observed that TXNIP expression was rapidly downregulated in RPE cells under oxidative stress and that RPE cell proliferation was decreased. TXNIP knockdown demonstrated that the suppression of proliferation resulted from TXNIP depletion-induced autophagic flux, causing increased p53 activation via nuclear localization, which in turn enhanced AMPK phosphorylation and activation. Moreover, TXNIP downregulation further negatively impacted BRB integrity by disrupting RPE cell tight junctions and enhancing cell motility by phosphorylating, and thereby activating, Src kinase. Finally, we also revealed that TXNIP knockdown upregulated HIF-1?, leading to the enhanced secretion of VEGF from RPE cells and the stimulation of angiogenesis in cocultured human retinal microvascular endothelial cells. This suggests that the exposure of RPE cells to sustained oxidative stress may promote choroidal neovascularization, another AMD pathology. Together, these findings reveal three distinct mechanisms by which TXNIP downregulation disrupts RPE cell function and thereby exacerbates AMD pathogenesis. Accordingly, reinforcing or restoring BRB integrity by targeting TXNIP may serve as an effective therapeutic strategy for preventing or attenuating photoreceptor damage in AMD.