Dual Specific Phosphatase 14 Deletion Rescues Retinal Ganglion Cells and Optic Nerve Axons after Experimental Anterior Ischemic Optic Neuropathy


Kumar V, Ali Shariati M, Mesentier-Louro L, Jinsook Oh A, Russano K, Goldberg JL, Liao YJ. Dual Specific Phosphatase 14 Deletion Rescues Retinal Ganglion Cells and Optic Nerve Axons after Experimental Anterior Ischemic Optic Neuropathy. Curr Eye Res 2021;46(5):710-718.

Date Published:

2021 May


PURPOSE: Understanding molecular changes is essential for designing effective treatments for nonarteritic anterior ischemic optic neuropathy (AION), the most common acute optic neuropathy in adults older than 50 years. We investigated changes in the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway after experimental AION and focused on dual specificity phosphatase 14 (Dusp14), an atypical MAPK phosphatase that is downstream of Krüppel-like transcription factor (KLF) 9-mediated inhibition of retinal ganglion cell (RGC) survival and axonal regeneration. MATERIALS AND METHODS: We induced severe AION in a photochemical thrombosis model in adult C57BL/6 wild-type and Dusp14 knockout mice. For comparison, some studies were performed using an optic nerve crush model. We assessed changes in MAPK pathway molecules using Western blot and immunohistochemistry, measured retinal thickness using optical coherence tomography (OCT), and quantified RGCs and axons using histologic methods. RESULTS: Three days after severe AION, there was no change in the retinal protein levels of MAPK ERK1/2, phosphorylated-ERK1/2 (pERK1/2), downstream effector Elk-1 and phosphatase Dusp14 on Western blot. Western blot analysis of purified RGCs after a more severe model using optic nerve crush also showed no change in Dusp14 protein expression. Because of the known importance of the Dusp14 and MAPK pathway in RGCs, we examined changes after AION in Dusp14 knockout mice. Three days after AION, Dusp14 knockout mice had significantly increased pERK1/2+, Brn3A+ RGCs on immunohistochemistry. Three weeks after AION, Dusp14 knockout mice had significantly greater preservation of retinal thickness, increased number of Brn3A+ RGCs on whole mount preparation, and increased number of optic nerve axons compared with wild-type mice. CONCLUSIONS: Genetic deletion of Dusp14, a MAPK phosphatase important in KFL9-mediated inhibition of RGC survival, led to increased activation of MAPK ERK1/2 and greater RGC and axonal survival after experimental AION. Inhibiting Dusp14 or activating the MAPK pathway should be examined further as a potential therapeutic approach to treatment of AION. Abbreviations: AION: anterior ischemic optic neuropathy; Dusp14: dual specific phosphatase 14; ERK1/2: extracellular signal-regulated kinases 1/2; Elk-1: ETS Like-1 protein; GCC: ganglion cell complex; GCL: ganglion cell layer; inner nuclear layer; KO: knockout; MAPK: mitogen-activated phosphokinase; OCT: optical coherence tomography; RGC: retinal ganglion cell; RNFL: retinal nerve fiber layer.

See also: Retina, May 2021, All, 2021
Last updated on 05/31/2021