Project description:Photoreceptor loss is the final common endpoint in most retinopathies that lead to irreversible blindness, and there are no effective treatments to restore vision1,2. Chemical reprogramming of fibroblasts offers an opportunity to reverse vision loss; however, the generation of sensory neuronal subtypes such as photoreceptors remains a challenge. Here we report that the administration of a set of five small molecules can chemically induce the transformation of fibroblasts into rod photoreceptor-like cells. The transplantation of these chemically induced photoreceptor-like cells (CiPCs) into the subretinal space of rod degeneration mice (homozygous for rd1, also known as Pde6b) leads to partial restoration of the pupil reflex and visual function. We show that mitonuclear communication is a key determining factor for the reprogramming of fibroblasts into CiPCs. Specifically, treatment with these five compounds leads to the translocation of AXIN2 to the mitochondria, which results in the production of reactive oxygen species, the activation of NF-?B and the upregulation of Ascl1. We anticipate that CiPCs could have therapeutic potential for restoring vision.
Project description:Vision loss due to ocular diseases such as glaucoma, optic neuropathy, macular degeneration, or diabetic retinopathy, are generally considered an exclusive affair of the retina and/or optic nerve. However, the brain, through multiple indirect influences, has also a major impact on functional visual impairment. Such indirect influences include intracerebral pressure, eye movements, top-down modulation (attention, cognition), and emotionally triggered stress hormone release affecting blood vessel dysregulation. Therefore, vision loss should be viewed as the result of multiple interactions within a "brain-eye-vascular triad", and several eye diseases may also be considered as brain diseases in disguise. While the brain is part of the problem, it can also be part of the solution. Neuronal networks of the brain can "amplify" residual vision through neuroplasticity changes of local and global functional connectivity by activating, modulating and strengthening residual visual signals. The activation of residual vision can be achieved by different means such as vision restoration training, non-invasive brain stimulation, or blood flow enhancing medications. Modulating brain functional networks and improving vascular regulation may offer new opportunities to recover or restore low vision by increasing visual field size, visual acuity and overall functional vision. Hence, neuroscience offers new insights to better understand vision loss, and modulating brain and vascular function is a promising source for new opportunities to activate residual vision to achieve restoration and recovery to improve quality of live in patients suffering from low vision.
Project description:Prosthetic vision is being applied to partially recover the retinal stimulation of visually impaired people. However, the phosphenic images produced by the implants have very limited information bandwidth due to the poor resolution and lack of color or contrast. The ability of object recognition and scene understanding in real environments is severely restricted for prosthetic users. Computer vision can play a key role to overcome the limitations and to optimize the visual information in the prosthetic vision, improving the amount of information that is presented. We present a new approach to build a schematic representation of indoor environments for simulated phosphene images. The proposed method combines a variety of convolutional neural networks for extracting and conveying relevant information about the scene such as structural informative edges of the environment and silhouettes of segmented objects. Experiments were conducted with normal sighted subjects with a Simulated Prosthetic Vision system. The results show good accuracy for object recognition and room identification tasks for indoor scenes using the proposed approach, compared to other image processing methods.
Project description:Upon degeneration of photoreceptors in the adult retina, interneurons, including bipolar cells, exhibit a plastic response leading to their aberrant rewiring. Photoreceptor reintroduction has been suggested as a potential approach to sight restoration, but the ability of deafferented bipolar cells to establish functional synapses with photoreceptors is poorly understood. Here we use photocoagulation to selectively destroy photoreceptors in adult rabbits while preserving the inner retina. We find that rods and cones shift into the ablation zone over several weeks, reducing the blind spot at scotopic and photopic luminances. During recovery, rod and cone bipolar cells exhibit markedly different responses to deafferentation. Rod bipolar cells extend their dendrites to form new synapses with healthy photoreceptors outside the lesion, thereby restoring visual function in the deafferented retina. Secretagogin-positive cone bipolar cells did not exhibit such obvious dendritic restructuring. These findings are encouraging to the idea of photoreceptor reintroduction for vision restoration in patients blinded by retinal degeneration. At the same time, they draw attention to the postsynaptic side of photoreceptor reintroduction; various bipolar cell types, representing different visual pathways, vary in their response to the photoreceptor loss and in their consequent dendritic restructuring.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT Loss of photoreceptors during retinal degeneration results in permanent visual impairment. Strategies for vision restoration based on the reintroduction of photoreceptors inherently rely on the ability of the remaining retinal neurons to correctly synapse with new photoreceptors. We show that deafferented bipolar cells in the adult mammalian retina can reconnect to rods and cones and restore retinal sensitivity at scotopic and photopic luminances. Rod bipolar cells extend their dendrites to form new synapses with healthy rod photoreceptors. These findings support the idea that bipolar cells might be able to synapse with reintroduced photoreceptors, thereby restoring vision in patients blinded by retinal degeneration.
Project description:It is commonly accepted that the evolution of the human eye has been driven by the maximum intensity of the radiation emitted by the Sun. However, the interpretation of the surrounding environment is constrained not only by the amount of energy received but also by the information content of the radiation. Information is related to entropy rather than energy. The human brain follows Bayesian statistical inference for the interpretation of visual space. The maximization of information occurs in the process of maximizing the entropy. Here, we show that the photopic and scotopic vision absorption peaks in humans are determined not only by the intensity but also by the entropy of radiation. We suggest that through the course of evolution, the human eye has not adapted only to the maximum intensity or to the maximum information but to the optimal wavelength for obtaining information. On Earth, the optimal wavelengths for photopic and scotopic vision are 555?nm and 508?nm, respectively, as inferred experimentally. These optimal wavelengths are determined by the temperature of the star (in this case, the Sun) and by the atmospheric composition.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Epigenetic reprogramming is critical for genome regulation during germ line development. Genome-wide demethylation in mouse primordial germ cells (PGC) is a unique reprogramming event essential for erasing epigenetic memory and preventing the transmission of epimutations to the next generation. In addition to DNA demethylation, PGC are subject to a major reprogramming of histone marks, and many of these changes are concurrent with a cell cycle arrest in the G2 phase. There is limited information on how well conserved these events are in mammals. Here we report on the dynamic reprogramming of DNA methylation at CpGs of imprinted loci and DNA repeats, and the global changes in H3K27me3 and H3K9me2 in the developing germ line of the domestic pig. RESULTS: Our results show loss of DNA methylation in PGC colonizing the genital ridges. Analysis of IGF2-H19 regulatory region showed a gradual demethylation between E22-E42. In contrast, DMR2 of IGF2R was already demethylated in male PGC by E22. In females, IGF2R demethylation was delayed until E29-31, and was de novo methylated by E42. DNA repeats were gradually demethylated from E25 to E29-31, and became de novo methylated by E42. Analysis of histone marks showed strong H3K27me3 staining in migratory PGC between E15 and E21. In contrast, H3K9me2 signal was low in PGC by E15 and completely erased by E21. Cell cycle analysis of gonadal PGC (E22-31) showed a typical pattern of cycling cells, however, migrating PGC (E17) showed an increased proportion of cells in G2. CONCLUSIONS: Our study demonstrates that epigenetic reprogramming occurs in pig migratory and gonadal PGC, and establishes the window of time for the occurrence of these events. Reprogramming of histone H3K9me2 and H3K27me3 detected between E15-E21 precedes the dynamic DNA demethylation at imprinted loci and DNA repeats between E22-E42. Our findings demonstrate that major epigenetic reprogramming in the pig germ line follows the overall dynamics shown in mice, suggesting that epigenetic reprogramming of germ cells is conserved in mammals. A better understanding of the sequential reprogramming of PGC in the pig will facilitate the derivation of embryonic germ cells in this species.
Project description:Pluripotent genomes are folded in a topological hierarchy that reorganizes during differentiation. The extent to which chromatin architecture is reconfigured during somatic cell reprogramming is poorly understood. Here we integrate fine-resolution architecture maps with epigenetic marks and gene expression in embryonic stem cells (ESCs), neural progenitor cells (NPCs), and NPC-derived induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). We find that most pluripotency genes reconnect to target enhancers during reprogramming. Unexpectedly, some NPC interactions around pluripotency genes persist in our iPSC clone. Pluripotency genes engaged in both "fully-reprogrammed" and "persistent-NPC" interactions exhibit over/undershooting of target expression levels in iPSCs. Additionally, we identify a subset of "poorly reprogrammed" interactions that do not reconnect in iPSCs and display only partially recovered, ESC-specific CTCF occupancy. 2i/LIF can abrogate persistent-NPC interactions, recover poorly reprogrammed interactions, reinstate CTCF occupancy, and restore expression levels. Our results demonstrate that iPSC genomes can exhibit imperfectly rewired 3D-folding linked to inaccurately reprogrammed gene expression.
Project description:Blindness arising from retinal or macular degeneration results in significant social, health and economic burden. While approved treatments exist for neovascular ('wet') age-related macular degeneration, new therapeutic targets/interventions are needed for the more prevalent atrophic ('dry') form of age-related macular degeneration. Similarly, in inherited retinal diseases, most patients have no access to an effective treatment. Although macular and retinal degenerations are genetically and clinically distinct, common pathological hallmarks can include photoreceptor degeneration, retinal pigment epithelium atrophy, oxidative stress, hypoxia and defective autophagy. Here, we evaluated the potential of selective histone deacetylase 6 inhibitors to preserve retinal morphology or restore vision in zebrafish atp6v0e1 -/- and mouse rd10 models. Histone deacetylase 6 inhibitor, tubastatin A-treated atp6v0e1 -/- zebrafish show marked improvement in photoreceptor outer segment area (44.7%, p = 0.027) and significant improvement in vision (8-fold, p ? 0.0001). Tubastatin A-treated rd10/rd10 retinal explants show a significantly (p = 0.016) increased number of outer-segment labeled cone photoreceptors. In vitro, ATP6V0E1 regulated HIF-1? activity, but significant regulation of HIF-1? by histone deacetylase 6 inhibition in the retina was not detected. Proteomic profiling identified ubiquitin-proteasome, phototransduction, metabolism and phagosome as pathways, whose altered expression correlated with histone deacetylase 6 inhibitor mediated restoration of vision.
Project description:DNA and histone modifications regulate transcriptional activity and thus represent valuable targets to reprogram the activity of genes. Current epigenetic therapies target the machinery that regulates these modifications, leading to global transcriptional reprogramming with the potential for extensive undesired effects. Epigenetic information can also be modified as a consequence of disrupting processive DNA replication. Here, we demonstrate that impeding replication by small-molecule-mediated stabilization of G-quadruplex nucleic acid secondary structures triggers local epigenetic plasticity. We report the use of the BU-1 locus of chicken DT40 cells to screen for small molecules able to induce G-quadruplex-dependent transcriptional reprogramming. Further characterization of the top hit compound revealed its ability to induce a dose-dependent inactivation of BU-1 expression in two steps: the loss of H3K4me3 and then subsequent DNA cytosine methylation, changes that were heritable across cell divisions even after the compound was removed. Targeting DNA secondary structures thus represents a potentially new approach for locus-specific epigenetic reprogramming.