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PURPOSE - To test the efficacy of systemic gene delivery of a mutant form of erythropoietin (EPO-R76E) that has attenuated erythropoietic activity, in a mouse model of autosomal dominant retinitis pigmentosa.
METHODS - Ten-day old mice carrying one copy of human rhodopsin with the P23H mutation and both copies of wild-type mouse rhodopsin (hP23H RHO+/-,mRHO+/+) were injected into the quadriceps with recombinant adeno-associated virus (rAAV) carrying either enhanced green fluorescent protein (eGFP) or EpoR76E. Visual function (electroretinogram) and retina structure (optical coherence tomography, histology, and immunohistochemistry) were assessed at 7 and 12 months of age.
RESULTS - The outer nuclear layer thickness decreased over time at a slower rate in rAAV.EpoR76E treated as compared to the rAAV.eGFP injected mice. There was a statistically significant preservation of the electroretinogram at 7, but not 12 months of age.
CONCLUSIONS - Systemic EPO-R76E slows death of the photoreceptors and vision loss in hP23H RHO+/-,mRHO+/+ mice. Treatment with EPO-R76E may widen the therapeutic window for retinal degeneration patients by increasing the number of viable cells. Future studies might investigate if co-treatment with EPO-R76E and gene replacement therapy is more effective than gene replacement therapy alone.
Mammals express four arrestin subtypes, three of which have been shown to self-associate. Cone photoreceptor-specific arrestin-4 is the only one that is a constitutive monomer. Visual arrestin-1 forms tetramers both in crystal and in solution, but the shape of its physiologically relevant solution tetramer is very different from that in the crystal. The biological role of the self-association of arrestin-1, expressed at very high levels in rod and cone photoreceptors, appears to be protective, reducing the concentration of cytotoxic monomers. The two nonvisual arrestin subtypes are highly homologous, and self-association of both is facilitated by IP6, yet they form dramatically different oligomers. Arrestin-2 apparently self-associates into "infinite" chains, very similar to those observed in IP6-soaked crystals, where IP6 connects the concave sides of the N- and C-domains of adjacent protomers. In contrast, arrestin-3 only forms dimers, in which IP6 likely connects the C-domains of two arrestin-3 molecules. Thus, each of the three self-associating arrestins does it in its own way, forming three different types of oligomers. The physiological role of the oligomerization of arrestin-1 and both nonvisual arrestins might be quite different, and in each case it remains to be definitively elucidated.
In the developing brain, the production of neurons from multipotent precursors must be carefully regulated in order to generate the appropriate numbers of various differentiated neuronal types. Inductive signals from extrinsic elements such as growth factors need to be integrated with timely expression of intrinsic elements such as transcription factors that define the competence of the cell. The transcriptional Mediator complex offers a mechanism to coordinate the timing and levels of intrinsic and extrinsic influences by acting as a rapid molecular switch for transcription of poised RNA pol II. The epithalamus is a highly conserved region of the vertebrate brain that differentiates early and rapidly in the zebrafish. It includes the pineal and parapineal organs and the habenular nuclei. Mutation of the Mediator complex subunit Med12 impairs the specification of habenular and parapineal neurons and causes a loss of differentiation in pineal neurons and photoreceptors. Although FGF ligands and transcription factors for parapineal and photoreceptor development are still expressed in the pineal complex of med12 mutants, FGF signaling is impaired and transcription factor expression is reduced and/or delayed. We find that the timely expression of one of these transcription factors, tbx2b, is controlled by Med12 and is vital for parapineal specification. We propose that the Mediator complex is responsible for subtle but significant changes in transcriptional timing and amplitude that are essential for coordinating the development of neurons in the epithalamus.
© 2013 Published by Elsevier Inc.
PURPOSE - Light signals from rod and cone photoreceptors traverse distinct types of second-order, bipolar neurons that carry these signals from the outer to inner retina. Anatomic and physiologic studies suggest that the specialization of rod and cone bipolar cells involves the differential expression of proteins involved in glutamatergic signaling. In a previous study, we compared the expression of genes for the AMPA- (GluR1-4) and kainate-sensitive (GluR5-7, KA1-2) ionotropic glutamate receptors, the metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluR1-8), and five non-vesicular glutamate transporters (EAAT1-5) in full-complement cDNA constructed from fresh and aldehyde-fixed macaque retina using a technique suitable for amplification of a variety of differentially expressed transcripts. Here we apply the same protocol to compare expression of these genes in cDNA constructed from single rod and cone bipolar cells previously-labeled for morphological identification in fixed slices of macaque retina.
METHODS - We used immunocytochemical labeling and unique morphological features in lightly fixed slices of macaque retina to target the rod bipolar or the DB3 cone OFF bipolar cell. Under visual control, we used a micropipette to target and extract labeled cells, and we isolated mRNA from each through enzymatic digestion. Full-length cDNA was synthesized using 3'-end amplification (TPEA) PCR, in which the highly diverse 3' regions were amplified indiscriminately to ensure detection of both high and low abundance genes. We used gene-specific RT-PCR to probe the cDNA of each bipolar cell both for expression of known genes to confirm cell identification as well as expression of genes encoding glutamate receptors GluR1-7, KA1-2, and mGluR1-8 and for transporters EAAT1-5.
RESULTS - Of 27 rod bipolar cells confirmed to express the genes for the a subunit of protein kinase C, mGluR6, and its G protein Galpha(o), 26 expressed at least one AMPA GluR subunit gene, 16 expressed at least two, and nine expressed three or more. Nearly every cell expressed the GluR4 gene (23/27), followed by GluR2 (16/27) and GluR1 (11/27). In addition to mGluR6, 20/27 cells also expressed the mGluR3 gene. Nearly every rod bipolar cell also expressed the genes for the EAAT2 (23/27) and EAAT4 (21/27) transporters. Of 26 DB3 cells confirmed by expression of calbindin D-28 and absence of GAD-65/67, each expressed the gene for the AMPA subunit GluR4, followed by GluR2 (22/26), and GluR1 (15/26), the only kainate subunit gene expressed was GluR6 (18/26). Nearly every DB3 cell also expressed the gene for the EAAT2 transporter (25/26), but no others.
CONCLUSIONS - Rod bipolar cells in the Macaca monkey retina expressed not only the mGluR6 gene, a subunit necessary for transmission of light-ON signals, but also nearly always GluR4 in combination with the glutamate transporter EAAT4 (21/27 cells). The DB3 cell involved in processing light-OFF signals from cones expressed most highly the combination of GluR4 and the transporter EAAT2 (25/26). These results suggest that glutamatergic signaling in rod and cone circuits in the primate retina depends upon complex molecular interactions, involving not only multiple glutamate receptor subunits, but also glutamate transporters. Our data demonstrate a consistent primary pattern for each cell type with subtle variability involving other genes. Thus, like neuronal cell types in other brain regions, morphological and physiologic homogeneity among retinal bipolar cell types does not exclude variations in expression that could serve to adjust the stimulus-response profile of each cell.
Arrestins are multi-functional regulators of G protein-coupled receptors. Receptor-bound arrestins interact with >30 remarkably diverse proteins and redirect the signaling to G protein-independent pathways. The functions of free arrestins are poorly understood, and the interaction sites of the non-receptor arrestin partners are largely unknown. In this study, we show that cone arrestin, the least studied member of the family, binds c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK3) and Mdm2 and regulates their subcellular distribution. Using arrestin mutants with increased or reduced structural flexibility, we demonstrate that arrestin in all conformations binds JNK3 comparably, whereas Mdm2 preferentially binds cone arrestin 'frozen' in the basal state. To localize the interaction sites, we expressed separate N- and C-domains of cone and rod arrestins and found that individual domains bind JNK3 and remove it from the nucleus as efficiently as full-length proteins. Thus, the arrestin binding site for JNK3 includes elements in both domains with the affinity of partial sites on individual domains sufficient for JNK3 relocalization. N-domain of rod arrestin binds Mdm2, which localizes its main interaction site to this region. Comparable binding of JNK3 and Mdm2 to four arrestin subtypes allowed us to identify conserved residues likely involved in these interactions.
PURPOSE - To examine the biochemical characteristics of rod and cone arrestin with respect to their ability to quench the activity of light-activated rhodopsin in transgenic mice.
METHODS - The mouse rod opsin promoter was used to drive expression of mouse cone arrestin in rod photoreceptor cells of rod arrestin knockout (arr1-/-) mice. Suction electrode recordings from single rods were performed to investigate cone arrestin's ability to quench the catalytic activity of light-activated rhodopsin. In addition, the ability of cone arrestin to prevent light-induced retinal damage caused by prolonged activation of the phototransduction cascade was assessed.
RESULTS - Two independent lines of transgenic mice were obtained that expressed cone arrestin in rod photoreceptors, and each was bred into the arr1-/- background. Flash responses measured by suction electrode recordings showed that cone arrestin reduced signaling from photolyzed rhodopsin but was unable to quench its activity completely. Consistent with this observation, expression of mouse cone arrestin conferred dose-dependent protection against photoreceptor cell death caused by low light exposure to arr1-/- retinas, but did not appear to be as effective as rod arrestin.
CONCLUSIONS - Cone arrestin can partially substitute for rod arrestin in arr1-/- rods, offering a degree of protection from light-induced damage and increasing the extent of rhodopsin deactivation in response to flashes of light. Although earlier work has shown that rod arrestin can bind and deactivate cone pigments efficiently, the results suggest that cone arrestin binds light-activated, phosphorylated rhodopsin less efficiently than does rod arrestin in vivo. These results suggest that the structural requirements for high-affinity binding are fundamentally distinct for rod and cone arrestins.
Synaptic circuits in primate fovea have been quantified for midget/parvocellular ganglion cells. Here, based on partial reconstructions from serial electron micrographs, we quantify synaptic circuits for two other types of ganglion cell: the familiar parasol/magnocellular cell and a smaller type, termed "garland." The excitatory circuits both derive from two types of OFF diffuse cone bipolar cell, DB3 and DB2, which collected unselectively from at least 6 +/- 1 cones, including the S type. Cone contacts to DB3 dendrites were usually located between neighboring triads, whereas half of the cone contacts to DB2 were triad associated. Ribbon outputs were as follows: DB3, 69 +/- 5; DB2, 48 +/- 4. A complete parasol cell (30 microm dendritic field diameter) would collect from approximately 50 cones via approximately 120 bipolar and approximately 85 amacrine contacts; a complete garland cell (25 microm dendritic field) would collect from approximately 40 cones via approximately 75 bipolar and approximately 145 amacrine contacts. The bipolar types contributed differently: the parasol cell received most contacts (60%) from DB3, whereas the garland cell received most contacts (67%) from DB2. We hypothesize that DB3 is a transient bipolar cell and that DB2 is sustained. This would be consistent with their relative inputs to the brisk-transient (parasol) ganglion cell. The garland cell, with its high proportion of DB2 inputs plus its high proportion of amacrine synapses (70%) and dense mosaic, might correspond to the local-edge cell in nonprimate retinas, which serves finer acuity at low temporal frequencies. The convergence of S cones onto both types could contribute S-cone input for cortical areas primary visual cortex and the middle temporal area.
Arrestins play a fundamental role in the regulation and signal transduction of G protein-coupled receptors. Here we describe the crystal structure of cone arrestin at 2.3A resolution. The overall structure of cone visual arrestin is similar to the crystal structures of rod visual and the non-visual arrestin-2, consisting of two domains, each containing ten beta-sheets. However, at the tertiary structure level, there are two major differences, in particular on the concave surfaces of the two domains implicated in receptor binding and in the loop between beta-strands I and II. Functional analysis shows that cone arrestin, in sharp contrast to its rod counterpart, bound cone pigments and non-visual receptors. Conversely, non-visual arrestin-2 bound cone pigments, suggesting that it may also regulate phototransduction and/or photopigment trafficking in cone photoreceptors. These findings indicate that cone arrestin displays structural and functional features intermediate between the specialized rod arrestin and the non-visual arrestins, which have broad receptor specificity. A unique functional feature of cone arrestin was the low affinity for its cognate receptor, resulting in an unusually rapid dissociation of the complex. Transient arrestin binding to the photopigment in cones may be responsible for the extremely rapid regeneration and reuse of the photopigment that is essential for cone function at high levels of illumination.
The separation of OFF pathways that signal light decrements from ON pathways that signal light increments occurs at the first retinal synapse. The dendrites of OFF bipolar cells abut the cone pedicle at basal positions distal to the site of glutamate release and express ligand-gated or ionotropic glutamate receptors (GluR). The dendrites of ON bipolar cells penetrate narrow invaginations of the cone pedicle proximal to the site of release and express the G-protein-coupled, metabotropic glutamate receptor, mGluR6. However, recent studies demonstrating the expression of GluR subunits in the rodent rod bipolar cell, known to yield an ON response to light, call this basic segregation of receptors into question. The light-microscopic distribution of many glutamate receptors in the primate retina is now well established. We reexamined their ultrastructural localization in the outer retina of Macaca fascicularis to test systematically whether invaginating dendrites at the cone synapse, presumably from ON bipolar cells, also express one or more ionotropic subunits. Using preembedding immunocytochemistry for electron microscopy, we quantified the distribution of the AMPA-sensitive subunits GluR2/3 and GluR4 and of the kainate-sensitive subunits GluR6/7 across 207 labeled dendrites occupying specific morphological loci at the cone pedicle. We report, in agreement with published investigations, that the majority of labeled processes for GluR2/3 (70%) and GluR4 (67%) either occupy basal positions or arise from horizontal cells. For GluR6/7, we find a significantly lower fraction of labeled processes at these positions (47%). We also find a considerable number of labeled dendrites for GluR2/3 (10%), GluR4 (21%), and GluR6/7 (18%) at invaginating positions. Surprisingly, for each subunit, the remainder of labeled processes corresponds to "fingers" of presynaptic cytoplasm within the cone invagination.
PURPOSE - Application of ciliary neurotrophic factor (CNTF) can rescue mature photoreceptors from lesion-induced and hereditary degeneration. In the chick retina, expression of the CNTF receptor is present in a subpopulation of photoreceptor cells. The present study was undertaken to identify the CNTF receptor-expressing photoreceptors and to describe the subcellular localization of the receptor protein.
METHODS - The localization of the CNTF receptor was analyzed by light and electron microscopic immunocytochemistry in chick retinal wholemount preparations, with an antibody for CNTF receptor alpha (CNTFRalpha). Immunoreactive cells were identified by double labeling with immunocytochemical markers for photoreceptor subpopulations.
RESULTS - The CNTFRalpha antibody labeled evenly distributed outer segments (OS) of a photoreceptor subpopulation. CNTFRalpha-positive OS were associated with oil droplets of uniform size. Receptor immunoreactivity did not colocalize with markers for rods and red-green cones. Complete overlap was found after double labeling with the antibody CERN 933, which recognizes violet-sensitive cones in the chick retina. Ultrastructurally, the CNTFRalpha-immunoreactive OS showed rodlike properties: an elongated shape and stacks of membrane discs separated from the plasma membrane. Immunoreactivity was completely restricted to the plasma membrane of the OS and the inner membrane sheet of the photoreceptor calices present in avian retinas.
CONCLUSIONS - CNTFRalpha expression identifies a unique type of photoreceptors in the avian retina which does not fit into the classic morphologic definition of rods and cones. The specific expression in violet-sensitive photoreceptors suggests that CNTF may have a neuroprotective role related to the specific function of these cells.