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Proteomic analysis of the human retina reveals region-specific susceptibilities to metabolic- and oxidative stress-related diseases

Velez, Gabriel; Machlab, Daniel A.; Yang, Peter H.; Sun, Yang; Tsang, Stephen H.; Bassuk, Alexander G.; Mahajan, Vinit B.

Differences in regional protein expression within the human retina may explain molecular predisposition of specific regions to ophthalmic diseases like age-related macular degeneration, cystoid macular edema, retinitis pigmentosa, and diabetic retinopathy. To quantify protein levels in the human retina and identify patterns of differentially-expressed proteins, we collected foveomacular, juxta-macular, and peripheral retina punch biopsies from healthy donor eyes and analyzed protein content by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). Protein expression was analyzed with 1-way ANOVA, gene ontology, pathway representation, and network analysis. We identified a mean of 1,974 proteins in the foveomacular retina, 1,999 in the juxta-macular retina, and 1,779 in the peripheral retina. Six hundred ninety-seven differentially-expressed proteins included those unique to and abundant in each anatomic region. Proteins with higher expression in each region include: heat-shock protein 90-alpha (HSP90AA1), and pyruvate kinase (PKM) in the foveomacular retina; vimentin (VIM) and fructose-bisphosphate aldolase C (ALDOC); and guanine nucleotide-binding protein subunit beta-1 (GNB1) and guanine nucleotide-binding protein subunit alpha-1 (GNAT1) in the peripheral retina. Pathway analysis identified downstream mediators of the integrin signaling pathway to be highly represented in the foveomacular region (P = 6.48 e–06). Metabolic pathways were differentially expressed among all retinal regions. Gene ontology analysis showed that proteins related to antioxidant activity were higher in the juxta-macular and the peripheral retina, but present in lower amounts in the foveomacular retina. Our proteomic analysis suggests that certain retinal regions are susceptible to different forms of metabolic and oxidative stress. The findings give mechanistic insight into retina function, reveal important molecular processes, and prioritize new pathways for therapeutic targeting.

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Academic Units
Ophthalmology
Pathology and Cell Biology
Published Here
March 27, 2018
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