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A common strategy by which developing neurons locate their synaptic partners is through projections to circuit-specific neuropil sublayers. Once established, sublayers serve as a substrate for selective synapse formation, but how sublayers arise during neurodevelopment remains unknown. Here, we identify the earliest events that initiate formation of the direction-selective circuit in the inner plexiform layer of mouse retina. We demonstrate that radially migrating newborn starburst amacrine cells establish homotypic contacts on arrival at the inner retina. These contacts, mediated by the cell-surface protein MEGF10, trigger neuropil innervation resulting in generation of two sublayers comprising starburst-cell dendrites. This dendritic scaffold then recruits projections from circuit partners. Abolishing MEGF10-mediated contacts profoundly delays and ultimately disrupts sublayer formation, leading to broader direction tuning and weaker direction-selectivity in retinal ganglion cells. Our findings reveal a mechanism by which differentiating neurons transition from migratory to mature morphology, and highlight this mechanism's importance in forming circuit-specific sublayers.
© 2018, Ray et al.
Proliferative vitreoretinopathy (PVR) is a common complication of open globe injury and the most common cause of failed retinal detachment surgery. The response by retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells liberated into the vitreous includes proliferation and migration; most importantly, epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) of RPE plays a central role in the development and progress of PVR. For the first time, we show that knockdown of BIRC5, a member of the inhibitor of apoptosis protein family, using either lentiviral vector based CRISPR/Cas9 nickase gene editing or inhibition of survivin using the small-molecule inhibitor YM155, results in the suppression of EMT in RPE cells. Knockdown of survivin or inhibition of survivin significantly reduced TGFβ-induced cell proliferation and migration. We further demonstrated that knockdown or inhibition of survivin attenuated the TGFβ signaling by showing reduced phospho-SMAD2 in BIRC5 knockdown or YM155-treated cells compared to controls. Inhibition of the TGFβ pathway using TGFβ receptor inhibitor also suppressed survivin expression in RPE cells. Our studies demonstrate that survivin contributes to EMT by cross-talking with the TGFβ pathway in RPE cells. Targeting survivin using small-molecule inhibitors may provide a novel approach to treat PVR disease.
Copyright © 2018 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Purpose - Current intra-arterial chemotherapy (IAC) drug regimens for retinoblastoma have ocular and vascular toxicities. No small-animal model of IAC exists to test drug efficacy and toxicity in vivo for IAC drug discovery. The purpose of this study was to develop a small-animal model of IAC and to analyze the ocular tissue penetration, distribution, pharmacokinetics, and treatment efficacy.
Methods - Following selective ophthalmic artery (OA) catheterization, melphalan (0.4 to 1.2 mg/kg) was injected. For pharmacokinetic studies, rabbits were euthanized at 0.5, 1, 2, 4, or 6 hours following intra-OA infusion. Drug levels were determined in vitreous, retina, and blood by liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry. To assess toxicity, angiograms, photography, fluorescein angiography, and histopathology were performed. For in situ tissue drug distribution, matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization imaging mass spectrometry (MALDI-IMS) was performed. The tumor model was created by combined subretinal/intravitreal injection of human WERI-Rb1 retinoblastoma cells; the tumor was treated in vivo with intra-arterial melphalan or saline; and induction of tumor death was measured by cleaved caspase-3 activity.
Results - OA was selectively catheterized for 79 of 79 (100%) eyes in 47 of 47 (100%) rabbits, and melphalan was delivered successfully in 31 of 31 (100%) eyes, without evidence of vascular occlusion or retinal damage. For treated eyes, maximum concentration (Cmax) in the retina was 4.95 μM and area under the curve (AUC0→∞) was 5.26 μM·h. Treated eye vitreous Cmax was 2.24 μM and AUC0→∞ was 4.19 μM·h. Vitreous Cmax for the treated eye was >100-fold higher than for the untreated eye (P = 0.01), and AUC0→∞ was ∼50-fold higher (P = 0.01). Histology-directed MALDI-IMS revealed highest drug localization within the retina. Peripheral blood Cmax was 1.04 μM and AUC0→∞ was 2.07 μM·h. Combined subretinal/intravitreal injection of human retinoblastoma cells led to intra-retinal tumors and subretinal/vitreous seeds, which could be effectively killed in vivo with intra-arterial melphalan.
Conclusions - This first small-animal model of IAC has excellent vitreous and retinal tissue drug penetration, achieving levels sufficient to kill human retinoblastoma cells, facilitating future IAC drug discovery.
BACKGROUND - Dopamine (DA) is a critical neuromodulator in the retina. Disruption of retinal DA synthesis and signaling significantly attenuates light-adapted, electroretinogram (ERG) responses, as well as contrast sensitivity and acuity. As these measures can be detected noninvasively, they may provide opportunities to detect disease processes linked to perturbed DA signaling. Recently, we identified a rare, functional DA transporter (DAT, SLC6A3) coding substitution, Ala559Val, in subjects with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), demonstrating that DAT Val559 imparts anomalous DA efflux (ADE) with attendant physiological, pharmacological, and behavioral phenotypes. To understand the broader impact of ADE on ADHD, noninvasive measures sensitive to DAT reversal are needed.
METHODS - Here, we explored this question through ERG-based analysis of retinal light responses, as well as HPLC measurements of retinal DA in DAT Val559 mice.
RESULTS - Male mice homozygous (HOM) for the DAT Val559 variant demonstrated increased, light-adapted ERG b-wave amplitudes compared to wild type (WT) and heterozygous (HET) mice, whereas dark-adapted responses were indistinguishable across genotypes. The elevated amplitude of the photopic light responses in HOM mice could be mimicked in WT mice by applying D and D DA receptor agonists and suppressed in HOM mice by introducing D antagonist, supporting elevated retinal DA signaling arising from ADE. Following the challenge with amphetamine, WT exhibited an increase in light-adapted response amplitudes, while HOM did not. Total retinal DA content was similar across genotypes. Interestingly, female DAT Val559 HOM animals revealed no significant difference in photopic ERG responses when compared with WT and HET littermates.
CONCLUSIONS - These data reveal that noninvasive, in vivo evaluation of retinal responses to light can reveal physiological signatures of ADE, suggesting a possible approach to the segregation of neurobehavioral disorders based on the DAT-dependent control of DA signaling.
The optic neuroepithelial continuum of vertebrate eye develops into three differentially growing compartments: the retina, the ciliary margin (CM), and the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE). Neurofibromin 2 (Nf2) is strongly expressed in slowly expanding RPE and CM compartments, and the loss of mouse Nf2 causes hyperplasia in these compartments, replicating the ocular abnormalities seen in human NF2 patients. The hyperplastic ocular phenotypes were largely suppressed by heterozygous deletion of Yap and Taz, key targets of the Nf2-Hippo signaling pathway. We also found that, in addition to feedback transcriptional regulation of Nf2 by Yap/Taz in the CM, activation of Nf2 expression by Mitf in the RPE and suppression by Sox2 in retinal progenitor cells are necessary for the differential growth of the corresponding cell populations. Together, our findings reveal that Nf2 is a key player that orchestrates the differential growth of optic neuroepithelial compartments during vertebrate eye development.
Copyright © 2017 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Stargardt disease is a juvenile onset retinal degeneration, associated with elevated levels of lipofuscin and its bis-retinoid components, such as N-retinylidene-N-retinylethanolamine (A2E). However, the pathogenesis of Stargardt is still poorly understood and targeted treatments are not available. Utilizing high spatial and high mass resolution matrix assisted laser desorption ionization (MALDI) imaging mass spectrometry (IMS), we determined alterations of lipid profiles specifically localized to the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) in Abca4 Stargardt model mice compared to their relevant background strain. Extensive analysis by LC-MS/MS in both positive and negative ion mode was required to accurately confirm the identity of one highly expressed lipid class, bis(monoacylgylercoro)phosphate (BMP) lipids, and to distinguish them from isobaric species. The same BMP lipids were also detected in the RPE of healthy human retina. BMP lipids have been previously associated with the endosomal/lysosomal storage diseases Niemann-Pick and neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis and have been reported to regulate cholesterol levels in endosomes. These results suggest that perturbations in lipid metabolism associated with late endosomal/lysosomal dysfunction may play a role in the pathogenesis of Stargardt disease and is evidenced in human retinas.
To better understand the roles of microRNAs in glial function, we used a conditional deletion of Dicer1 (Dicer-CKO) in retinal Müller glia (MG). Dicer1 deletion from the MG leads to an abnormal migration of the cells as early as 1 month after the deletion. By 6 months after Dicer1 deletion, the MG form large aggregations and severely disrupt normal retinal architecture and function. The most highly upregulated gene in the Dicer-CKO MG is the proteoglycan Brevican (Bcan) and overexpression of Bcan results in similar aggregations of the MG in wild-type retina. One potential microRNA that regulates Bcan is miR-9, and overexpression of miR-9 can partly rescue the effects of Dicer1 deletion on the MG phenotype. We also find that MG from retinitis pigmentosa patients display an increase in Brevican immunoreactivity at sites of MG aggregation, linking the retinal remodeling that occurs in chronic disease with microRNAs.
Vascular cell adhesion molecule 1 (VCAM-1) is an important inflammatory biomarker correlating with retinal disease progression. Thus, detection of VCAM-1 mRNA expression levels at an early disease stage could be an important predictive biomarker to assess the risk of disease progression and monitoring treatment response. We have developed VCAM-1 targeted antisense hairpin DNA-functionalized gold nanoparticles (AS-VCAM-1 hAuNP) for the real time detection of VCAM-1 mRNA expression levels in retinal endothelial cells. The AS-VCAM-1 hAuNP fluorescence enhancement clearly visualized the TNF-α induced cellular VCAM-1 mRNA levels with high signal to noise ratios compared to normal serum treated cells. The scrambled hAuNP probes were minimally detectable under same image acquisition conditions. Intracellular hAuNPs were detected using transmission electron microscopy (TEM) analysis of the intact cells. In addition, the AS-VCAM-1 hAuNP probes exhibited no acute toxicity to the retinal microvascular endothelial cells as measured by live-dead assay.
Copyright © 2017 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Optical coherence tomography (OCT) has become a standard-of-care in retinal imaging. OCT allows non-invasive imaging of the tissue structure but lacks specificity to contrast agents that could be used for in vivo molecular imaging. Photothermal OCT (PT-OCT) is a functional OCT-based technique that has been developed to detect absorbers in a sample. We demonstrate in vivo PT-OCT in the eye for the first time on both endogenous (melanin) and exogenous (gold nanorods) absorbers. Pigmented mice and albino mice (n = 6 eyes) were used to isolate the photothermal signal from the melanin in the retina. Pigmented mice with laser-induced choroidal neovascularization lesions (n = 7 eyes) were also imaged after a systemic injection of gold nanorods to observe their passive accumulation in the retina. This experiment demonstrates the feasibility of PT-OCT to image the distribution of both endogenous and exogenous absorbers in the mouse retina.
Purpose - To demonstrate the utility of a novel in vivo molecular imaging probe, HYPOX-4, to detect and image retinal hypoxia in real time, in a mouse model of retinal vein occlusion (RVO).
Methods - Retinal vein occlusion was achieved in adult mice by photodynamic retinal vein thrombosis (PRVT). One or two major retinal vein(s) was/were occluded in close proximity to the optic nerve head (ONH). In vivo imaging of retinal hypoxia was performed using, HYPOX-4, an imaging probe developed by our laboratory. Pimonidazole-adduct immunostaining was performed and used as a standard ex vivo method for the detection of retinal hypoxia in this mouse RVO model. The retinal vasculature was imaged using fluorescein angiography (FA) and isolectin B4 staining. Retinal thickness was assessed by spectral-domain optical coherence tomography (SD-OCT) analysis.
Results - By application of the standard ex vivo pimonidazole-adduct immunostaining technique, retinal hypoxia was observed within 2 hours post-PRVT. The observed hypoxic retinal areas depended on whether one or two retinal vein(s) was/were occluded. Similar areas of hypoxia were imaged in vivo using HYPOX-4. Using OCT, retinal edema was observed immediately post-PRVT induction, resolving 8 days later. Nominal preretinal neovascularization was observed at 10 to 14 days post-RVO.
Conclusions - HYPOX-4 is an efficient probe capable of imaging retinal hypoxia in vivo, in RVO mice. Future studies will focus on its use in correlating retinal hypoxia to the onset and progression of ischemic vasculopathies.