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Doug D. Chung, Ricardo F. Frausto, Benjamin R. Lin, Evelyn M. Hanser, Zack Cohen, Anthony J. Aldave; Transcriptomic Profiling of Posterior Polymorphous Corneal Dystrophy. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2017;58(7):3202-3214. doi: 10.1167/iovs.17-21423.
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To investigate the molecular basis of posterior polymorphous corneal dystrophy (PPCD) by examining the PPCD transcriptome and the effect of decreased ZEB1 expression on corneal endothelial cell (CEnC) gene expression.
Next-generation RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) analyses of corneal endothelium from two PPCD-affected individuals (one with PPCD3 and one of unknown genetic cause) compared with two age-matched controls, and primary human CEnC (pHCEnC) transfected with siRNA-mediated ZEB1 knockdown. The expression of selected differentially expressed genes was validated by quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) and/or assessed by in situ hybridization in the corneal endothelium of four independent cases of PPCD (one with PPCD3 and three of unknown genetic cause).
Expression of 16% and 46% of the 104 protein-coding genes specific to ex vivo corneal endothelium was lost in the endothelium of two individuals with PPCD. Thirty-two genes associated with ZEB1 and 3 genes (BMP4, CCND1, ZEB1) associated with OVOL2 were differentially expressed in the same direction in both individuals with PPCD. Immunohistochemistry staining and RNA-seq analyses demonstrated variable expression of type IV collagens in PPCD corneas. Decreasing ZEB1 expression in pHCEnC altered expression of 711 protein-coding genes, many of which are associated with canonical pathways regulating various cellular processes.
Identification of the altered transcriptome in PPCD and in a cell-based model of PPCD provided insight into the molecular alterations characterizing PPCD. Further study of the differentially expressed genes associated with ZEB1 and OVOL2 is expected to identify candidate genes for individuals with PPCD and without a ZEB1 or OVOL2 mutation.
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