• Issue front cover thumbnail

      Volume 88, Issue 4

      December 2009,   pages  393-527

    • Preface

      Chitra Kannabiran Kunal Ray

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    • Hope and major strides for genetic diseases of the eye

      Elias I. Traboulsi

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    • RPGR-containing protein complexes in syndromic and non-syndromic retinal degeneration due to ciliary dysfunction

      Carlos A. Murga-Zamalloa Anand Swaroop Hemant Khanna

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      Dysfunction of primary cilia due to mutations in cilia-centrosomal proteins is associated with pleiotropic disorders. The primary (or sensory) cilium of photoreceptors mediates polarized trafficking of proteins for efficient phototransduction. Retinitis pigmentosa GTPase regulator (RPGR) is a cilia-centrosomal protein mutated in >70% of X-linked RP cases and 10%–20% of simplex RP males. Accumulating evidence indicates that RPGR may facilitate the orchestration of multiple ciliary protein complexes. Disruption of these complexes due to mutations in component proteins is an underlying cause of associated photoreceptor degeneration. Here, we highlight the recent developments in understanding the mechanism of cilia-dependent photoreceptor degeneration due to mutations in RPGR and RPGR-interacting proteins in severe genetic diseases, including retinitis pigmentosa, Leber congenital amaurosis (LCA), Joubert syndrome, and Senior–Loken syndrome, and explore the physiological relevance of photoreceptor ciliary protein complexes.

    • Channelrhodopsins provide a breakthrough insight into strategies for curing blindness

      Hiroshi Tomita Eriko Sugano Hitomi Isago Makoto Tamai

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      Photoreceptor cells are the only retinal neurons that can absorb photons. Their degeneration due to some diseases or injuries leads to blindness. Retinal prostheses electrically stimulating surviving retinal cells and evoking a pseudo light sensation have been investigated over the past decade for restoring vision. Currently, a gene therapy approach is under development. Channelrhodopsin-2 derived from the green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, is a microbial-type rhodopsin. Its specific characteristic is that it functions as a light-driven cation-selective channel. It has been reported that the channelrhodopsin-2 transforms inner light-insensitive retinal neurons to light-sensitive neurons. Herein, we introduce new strategies for restoring vision by using channelrhodopsins and discuss the properties of adeno-associated virus vectors widely used in gene therapy.

    • Induced pluripotent stem cells for retinal degenerative diseases: a new perspective on the challenges

      Zi-Bing Jin Satoshi Okamoto Michiko Mandai Masayo Takahashi

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      Retinal degenerative diseases, including age-related macular degeneration and retinitis pigmentosa, are the prodominant causes of human blindness in the world; however, these diseases are difficult to treat. Currently, knowledge on the mechanisms of these diseases is still very limited and no radical drugs are available. Induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells are an innovative technology that turns somatic cells into embryonic stem (ES)-like cells with pluripotent potential via the exogenous expression of several key genes. It can be used as an unlimited source for cell differentiation or tissue engineering, either of which is a promising therapy for human degenerative diseases. Induced pluripotent cells are both an unlimited source for retinal regeneration and an expectant tool for pharmaprojects and developmental or disease modelling. In this review, we try to summarize the advancement of iPS-based technologies and the potential utility for retinal degenerative diseases. We also discuss the challenges of using this technology in the retinology field.

    • The molecular genetic basis of age-related macular degeneration: an overview

      Saritha Katta Inderjeet Kaur Subhabrata Chakrabarti

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      Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a complex disorder of the eye and the third leading cause of blindness worldwide. With a multifactorial etiology, AMD results in progressive loss of central vision affecting the macular region of the eye in elderly. While the prevalence is relatively higher in the Caucasian populations, it has gradually become a major public health issue among the non-Caucasian populations (including Indians) as well due to senescence, rapidly changing demographics and life-style factors. Recent genome-wide association studies (GWAS) on large case–control cohorts have helped in mapping genes in the complement cascade that are involved in the regulation of innate immunity with AMD susceptibility. Genes involved with mitochondrial oxidative stress and extracellular matrix regulation also play a role in AMD pathogenesis. Majority of the associations observed in complement (CFH, CFB, C2 and C3) and other (ARMS2 and HTRA1) genes have been replicated in diverse populations worldwide. Gene–gene (CFH with ARMS2 and HTRA1) interactions and correlations with environmental traits (smoking and body mass index) have been established as significant covariates in AMD pathology. In this review, we have provided an overview on the underlying molecular genetic mechanisms in AMD worldwide and highlight the AMD-associated-candidate genes and their potential role in disease pathogenesis.

    • Molecular complexity of primary open angle glaucoma: current concepts

      Kunal Ray Suddhasil Mookherjee

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      Glaucoma is a group of heterogeneous optic neuropathies with complex genetic basis. Among the three principle subtypes of glaucoma, primary open angle glaucoma (POAG) occurs most frequently. Till date, 25 loci have been found to be linked to POAG. However, only three underlying genes (Myocilin, Optineurin and WDR36) have been identified. In addition, at least 30 other genes have been reported to be associated with POAG. Despite strong genetic influence in POAG pathogenesis, only a small part of the disease can be explained in terms of genetic aberration. Current concepts of glaucoma pathogenesis suggest it to be a neurodegenerative disorder which is triggered by different factors including mechanical stress due to intra-ocular pressure, reduced blood flow to retina, reperfusion injury, oxidative stress, glutamate excitotoxicity, and aberrant immune response. Here we present a mechanistic overview of potential pathways and crosstalk between them operating in POAG pathogenesis.

    • Mouse models of cataract

      Jochen Graw

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      Much of our knowledge about the function of genes in cataracts has been derived from the molecular analysis of spontaneous or induced mutations in the mouse. Mutations affecting the mouse lens can be identified easily by visual inspection, and a remarkable number of mutant lines have been characterized. In contrast to humans, most of the genetic mouse cataract models suffer from congenital cataracts, and only a few develop cataracts in old age. Therefore, the mouse cataract models contributed rather to the understanding of lens development than to the ageing process taking place in the lens. A prerequisite formolecular analysis is the chromosomal localization of the gene. In this review, several mouse models will be discussed with emphasis on the underlying genetic basis rather than the morphological features as exemplified by the following:

      1. the most frequent mutations in congenital cataracts affect genes coding for 𝛾-crystallins (gene symbol: Cryg);

      2. some postnatal, progressive cataracts have been characterized by mutations in the 𝛽-crystallin encoding genes (Cryb);

      3. mutations in genes coding for membrane proteins like MIP or connexins lead to congenital cataracts;

      4. mutations in genes coding for transcription factors such as FoxE3, Maf, Sox1, and Six5 cause cataracts;

      5. mouse models suffering from hereditary age-related cataracts (e.g. Emory cataract) have not yet been characterized genetically.

      In conclusion, a broad variety of hereditary congenital cataracts are well understood at the molecular level. Further, expression patterns of the affected genes in several other tissues and organs outside the eye, is making it increasingly clear that isolated cataracts are the exception rather than the rule. By further understanding the pleiotropic effects of these genes, we might recognize cataracts as an easily visible biomarker for a number of systemic syndromes.

    • Genetics of corneal endothelial dystrophies

      Chitra Kannabiran

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      The corneal endothelium maintains the level of hydration in the cornea. Dysfunction of the endothelium results in excess accumulation of water in the corneal stroma, leading to swelling of the stroma and loss of transparency. There are four different corneal endothelial dystrophies that are hereditary, progressive, non-inflammatory disorders involving dysfunction of the corneal endothelium. Each of the endothelial dystrophies is genetically heterogeneous with different modes of transmission and/or different genes involved in each subtype. Genes responsible for disease have been identified for only a subset of corneal endothelial dystrophies. Knowledge of genes involved and their function in the corneal endothelium can aid understanding the pathogenesis of the disorder as well as reveal pathways that are important for normal functioning of the endothelium.

    • Mediators of ocular angiogenesis

      Yureeda Qazi Surekha Maddula Balamurali K. Ambati

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      Angiogenesis is the formation of new blood vessels from pre-existing vasculature. Pathologic angiogenesis in the eye can lead to severe visual impairment. In our review, we discuss the roles of both pro-angiogenic and anti-angiogenic molecular players in corneal angiogenesis, proliferative diabetic retinopathy, exudative macular degeneration and retinopathy of prematurity, highlighting novel targets that have emerged over the past decade.

    • A comprehensive, sensitive and economical approach for the detection of mutations in the RB1 gene in retinoblastoma

      Vidya Latha Parsam Chitra Kannabiran Santosh Honavar Geeta K. Vemuganti Mohammad Javed Ali

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      Retinoblastoma (Rb) is the most common primary intraocular malignancy in children. It is brought about by the mutational inactivation of both alleles of RB1 gene in the developing retina. To identify the RB1 mutations, we analysed 74 retinoblastoma patients by screening the exons and the promoter region of RB1. The strategy used was to detect large deletions/duplications by fluorescent quantitative multiplex PCR; small deletions/insertions by fluorescent genotyping of RB1 alleles, and point mutations by PCR-RFLP and sequencing. Genomic DNA from the peripheral blood leucocytes of 74 Rb patients (53 with bilateral Rb, 21 with unilateral Rb; 4 familial cases) was screened for mutations. Recurrent mutations were identified in five patients with bilateral Rb, large deletions in 11 patients (nine with bilateral Rb and two with unilateral Rb), small deletions/insertions were found in 12 patients all with bilateral Rb, and point mutations in 26 patients (14 nonsense, six splice site, five substitution and one silent change). Three mutations were associated with variable expressivity of the disease in different family members. Using this method, the detection rates achieved in patients with bilateral Rb were 44/53 (83%) and with unilateral Rb, 5/21 (23.8%). This approach may be feasible for clinical genetic testing and counselling of patients.

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