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Yichen Wang, Anne M. Terrell, Brittany A. Riggio, Deepti Anand, Salil A. Lachke, Melinda K. Duncan; β1-Integrin Deletion From the Lens Activates Cellular Stress Responses Leading to Apoptosis and Fibrosis. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2017;58(10):3896-3922. doi: 10.1167/iovs.17-21721.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Previous research showed that the absence of β1-integrin from the mouse lens after embryonic day (E) 13.5 (β1MLR10) leads to the perinatal apoptosis of lens epithelial cells (LECs) resulting in severe microphthalmia. This study focuses on elucidating the molecular connections between β1-integrin deletion and this phenotype.
RNA sequencing was performed to identify differentially regulated genes (DRGs) in β1MLR10 lenses at E15.5. By using bioinformatics analysis and literature searching, Egr1 (early growth response 1) was selected for further study. The activation status of certain signaling pathways (focal adhesion kinase [FAK]/Erk, TGF-β, and Akt signaling) was studied via Western blot and immunohistochemistry. Mice lacking both β1-integrin and Egr1 genes from the lenses were created (β1MLR10/Egr1−/−) to study their relationship.
RNA sequencing identified 120 DRGs that include candidates involved in the cellular stress response, fibrosis, and/or apoptosis. Egr1 was investigated in detail, as it mediates cellular stress responses in various cell types, and is recognized as an upstream regulator of numerous other β1MLR10 lens DRGs. In β1MLR10 mice, Egr1 levels are elevated shortly after β1-integrin loss from the lens. Further, pErk1/2 and pAkt are elevated in β1MLR10 LECs, thus providing the potential signaling mechanism that causes Egr1 upregulation in the mutant. Indeed, deletion of Egr1 from β1MLR10 lenses partially rescues the microphthalmia phenotype.
β1-integrin regulates the appropriate levels of Erk1/2 and Akt phosphorylation in LECs, whereas its deficiency results in the overexpression of Egr1, culminating in reduced cell survival. These findings provide insight into the molecular mechanism underlying the microphthalmia observed in β1MLR10 mice.
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