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Sharee Kuny, Frédéric Gaillard, Yves Sauvé; Differential Gene Expression in Eyecup and Retina of a Mouse Model of Stargardt-like Macular Dystrophy (STGD3). Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2012;53(2):664-675. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/iovs.11-8418.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
To investigate differentially expressed genes in eyecup and retina of the ELOVL4 transgenic mouse, a model of Stargardt-like macular dystrophy (STGD3).
We examined gene and protein expression in known pathways relevant to retinal degeneration using PCR arrays, Western blotting, and immunohistochemistry. Investigations were performed on ELOVL4 transgenic mice at 9 months, when 50% of rod (but no cone) photoreceptors had degenerated. Age-matched wild-type littermates served as controls.
Significant expression level changes were found in only 17 of the 252 genes examined. Nine were upregulated (Fgf2, Fgfr1, Ntf5, Cbln1, Ngfr, Ntrk1, Trp53, Tlr6, and Herpud1), and eight were downregulated (Ccl22, Ccr3, Il18rap, Nf1, Ccl11, Atf6β, Rpn1, and Serp1). Overexpression of FGF2 was detected at 1 month, before rod loss onset, and was maintained at high levels until cone loss (18 months). By 9 months, FGF2 overexpression was seen in photoreceptor cell bodies. Increased glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) expression due to glial cell reactivity followed the same time course. Levels of NGFR/p75NTR remained invariant. Although present in rod outer segments at 1 month, the macrophage chemoattracting chemokine CCL22 became undetectable by 9 months, a likely consequence of progressive rod outer segment truncation.
At a mid-degeneration stage, major changes in gene expression in the ELOVL4 transgenic mouse retina included upregulation of Fgf2 and Fgfr1 and downregulation of Ccl22. Modulation of FGF2 occurred very early, concomitant with an increase in GFAP expression. Future studies will address which factors upstream of Fgf2 could provide potential therapeutic targets to slow photoreceptor degeneration in STGD3.
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