Mechanisms of photoreceptor cell death in cancer-associated retinopathy

T Maeda, A Maeda, I Maruyama, K I Ogawa, Y Kuroki, H Sahara, N Sato, H Ohguro
Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science 2001, 42 (3): 705-12

PURPOSE: In a previous study, both recoverin and heat shock cognate protein (hsc) 70 were recognized as autoantigens by sera from patients with cancer-associated retinopathy (CAR), and retinal dysfunction similar to CAR was inducible by intravitreous injection of anti-recoverin and anti-hsc 70 antibodies to Lewis rat. The purpose of the present study was to elucidate the effects of these antibodies on retinal photoreceptor cell functions, the contribution of caspase during the photoreceptor degeneration, and the roles of aberrant expression of recoverin in tumor cells.

METHODS: As photoreceptor functions, rhodopsin phosphorylation using freshly prepared rod outer segments (ROS) and electroretinogram (ERG) were studied. Expression of recoverin in several kinds of tumors was examined by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction and Western blot analysis. The effects of recoverin on calcium-dependent protein phosphorylation were studied using the A549 lung adenocarcinoma cell line, which does not express recoverin.

RESULTS: Rhodopsin phosphorylation in bovine ROS was significantly promoted by the addition of anti-recoverin antibody. Similar effects on rhodopsin phosphorylation and ERG impairment were observed in rat eyes treated with anti-recoverin antibody. Co-injection of caspase inhibitors with anti-recoverin antibody inhibited ERG impairment and significantly suppressed the antibody-induced enhancement of rhodopsin phosphorylation. Aberrant expression of recoverin was found in 15 of 30 tumor tissues from patients with cancer without CAR. Profiles of calcium-dependent protein phosphorylation of cell lysate from A549 cells were modulated by the presence of purified recoverin.

CONCLUSIONS: These observations suggest that anti-recoverin antibody is incorporated into rod photoreceptor cells and modulates rhodopsin phosphorylation, which in turn produces activation of caspase-dependent apoptotic pathways. Regarding antibody generation in CAR, a high incidence of aberrant expression of recoverin in cancer tissues is important, as suggested previously.

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