Elevated amounts of myocilin in the aqueous humor of transgenic mice cause significant changes in ocular gene expression

Walter Paper, Markus Kroeber, Sebastian Heersink, Dietrich A Stephan, Rudolf Fuchshofer, Paul Russell, Ernst R Tamm
Experimental Eye Research 2008, 87 (3): 257-67
Myocilin is a 55-57kDa secreted glycoprotein and member of the olfactomedin family, which is mutated in some forms of primary open-angle glaucoma. To assess the effects of elevated amounts of myocilin on aqueous humor outflow dynamics in an in vivo system, transgenic betaB1-crystallin-MYOC mice have been developed that strongly overexpress myocilin in their eyes. The transgenic overexpression of myocilin results in an almost five-fold increase of secreted normal myocilin in the aqueous humor of betaB1-crystallin-MYOC mice. In the present study, we wanted to use betaB1-crystallin-MYOC as a tool to identify the response of ocular tissues to the presence of higher than normal amounts of myocilin, and to identify changes in gene expression that could help to shed light on the functional in vivo properties of myocilin. RNA was isolated from ocular tissues of betaB1-crystallin-MYOC mice and wild-type littermates. Changes in gene expression were determined by hybridization of gene microarrays and confirmed by real time RT-PCR and Western blotting. The expression of genes that had been found to be differentially regulated in betaB1-crystallin-MYOC mice was further analyzed in cultured human trabecular meshwork (HTM) cells treated with recombinant myocilin. Although betaB1-crystallin-MYOC mice do not have an obvious phenotype, a statistically significant up- and downregulation of several distinct genes was found when compared to gene expression in wild-type littermates. Among the genes that were found to be differentially regulated were Wasl, Ceacam1, and Spon2, which are involved in cell adhesion and cell-matrix interactions. Differences in expression were also found for Six1 which encodes for a transcription factor, and for Pftk1 whose gene product is a cdc2-related protein kinase. The expression of these genes was also found to be regulated in vitro in HTM cells treated with recombinant myocilin. Substantially higher amounts in ocular tissues of betaB1-crystallin-MYOC mice were found for connexin 46 and alphaB-crystallin. In addition, several genes that encode for olfactomedin proteins showed distinct changes in expression. Olfml3 was significantly downregulated, while Lphn1, Lphn2, and Lphn3 were significantly upregulated. Our findings support a role for myocilin in modulating cellular adhesion, and suggest functional processes that involve other proteins of the olfactomedin family.

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