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Abigail H. Conrad, Michael Albrecht, Maya Pettit-Scott, Gary W. Conrad; Embryonic Corneal Schwann Cells Express Some Schwann Cell Marker mRNAs, but No Mature Schwann Cell Marker Proteins. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2009;50(9):4173-4184. doi: 10.1167/iovs.08-3136.
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purpose. Embryonic chick nerves encircle the cornea in pericorneal tissue until embryonic day (E)9, then penetrate the anterior corneal stroma, invade the epithelium, and branch over the corneal surface through E20. Adult corneal nerves, cut during transplantation or LASIK, never fully regenerate. Schwann cells (SCs) protect nerve fibers and augment nerve repair. This study evaluates SC differentiation in embryonic chick corneas.
methods. Fertile chicken eggs were incubated from E0 at 38°C, 45% humidity. Dissected permeabilized corneas plus pericorneal tissue were immunostained for SC marker proteins. Other corneas were paraffin embedded, sectioned, and processed by in situ hybridization for corneal-, nerve-related, and SC marker gene expression. E9 to E20 corneas, dissected from pericorneal tissue, were assessed by real-time PCR (QPCR) for mRNA expression.
results. QPCR revealed unchanging low to moderate SLIT2/ROBO and NTN/UNC5 family, BACE1, and CADM3/CADM4 expressions, but high NEO1 expression. EGR2 and POU3F1 expressions never surpassed PAX3 expression. ITGNA6/ITGNB4 expressions increased 20-fold; ITGNB1 expression was high. SC marker S100 and MBP expressions increased; MAG, GFAP, and SCMP expressions were very low. Antibodies against the MPZ, MAG, S100, and SCMP proteins immunostained along pericorneal nerves, but not along corneal nerves. In the cornea, SLIT2 and SOX10 mRNAs were expressed in anterior stroma and epithelium, whereas PAX3, S100, MBP, and MPZL1 mRNAs were expressed only in corneal epithelium.
conclusions. Embryonic chick corneas contain SCs, as defined by SOX10 and PAX3 transcription, which remain immature, at least in part because of stromal transcriptional and epithelial translational regulation of some SC marker gene expression.
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