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F. Wang, B. L. Song, H. Y. Guo, S. L. Jia, L. W. Xu; Stem Cell-Like Characteristics of Mouse Corneal Epithelial Cells. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2010;51(13):3761.
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The recently identified transmembrane protein prominin is expressed in somatic stem cells of various adult tissues, and it is considered a stem cell marker. In the eye, the corneo-scleral limbus has been shown to harbor a population of stem cells that can give rise to corneal epithelial cells. We undertook a study to evaluate whether mouse corneal tissue also contains CD133-expressing cells and to determine their distribution.
Enucleated adult mouse eyes were embedded in OCT and cryosections were prepared for immunohistochemical studies using the avidin-biotin-peroxidase complex (ABC) procedure. In addition, fresh dissected mouse corneas were homogenized, samples were incubated overnight at 37°C in the absence or presence of 1 U peptide-N-glycosidase F (PNGaseF), analyzed by western blot according to the manufacturer's instructions.
CD133 immunoreactivity was detected at the apical side of the superficial corneal epithelium, including the limbus region, but not in the stroma or the endothelium. PNGaseF treatment yielded the N-glycosylated 115-kDa form of prominin and the 94-kDa product from the corneal tissue by westernblot.
The results provide new opportunities to investigate epithelial reconstitution of the conjunctival surface. The limbus assumedly is not the unique niche for corneal stem cells. The report described the presence of adult stem cells throughout the whole ocular surface of many mammals, the entire ocular surface of the pig, including the cornea, contains oligopotent stem cells (holoclones) with the capacity to generate individual colonies of corneal and conjunctival cells. Our findings lead support to the idea that stem cell-like activity not only occurs along the limbus, but is presumably seen in a small proportion of corneal epithelial cells that may hold similar potential.
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