2020

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Zucker CL, Bernstein PS, Schalek RL, Lichtman JW, Dowling JE. A connectomics approach to understanding a retinal disease. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2020;117(31):18780-18787.Abstract
Macular telangiectasia type 2 (MacTel), a late-onset macular degeneration, has been linked to a loss in the retina of Müller glial cells and the amino acid serine, synthesized by the Müller cells. The disease is confined mainly to a central retinal region called the MacTel zone. We have used electron microscopic connectomics techniques, optimized for disease analysis, to study the retina from a 48-y-old woman suffering from MacTel. The major observations made were specific changes in mitochondrial structure within and outside the MacTel zone that were present in all retinal cell types. We also identified an abrupt boundary of the MacTel zone that coincides with the loss of Müller cells and macular pigment. Since Müller cells synthesize retinal serine, we propose that a deficiency of serine, required for mitochondrial maintenance, causes mitochondrial changes that underlie MacTel development.
van Zyl T, Yan W, McAdams A, Peng Y-R, Shekhar K, Regev A, Juric D, Sanes JR. Cell atlas of aqueous humor outflow pathways in eyes of humans and four model species provides insight into glaucoma pathogenesis. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2020;117(19):10339-10349.Abstract
Increased intraocular pressure (IOP) represents a major risk factor for glaucoma, a prevalent eye disease characterized by death of retinal ganglion cells; lowering IOP is the only proven treatment strategy to delay disease progression. The main determinant of IOP is the equilibrium between production and drainage of aqueous humor, with compromised drainage generally viewed as the primary contributor to dangerous IOP elevations. Drainage occurs through two pathways in the anterior segment of the eye called conventional and uveoscleral. To gain insights into the cell types that comprise these pathways, we used high-throughput single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNAseq). From ∼24,000 single-cell transcriptomes, we identified 19 cell types with molecular markers for each and used histological methods to localize each type. We then performed similar analyses on four organisms used for experimental studies of IOP dynamics and glaucoma: cynomolgus macaque (), rhesus macaque (), pig (), and mouse (). Many human cell types had counterparts in these models, but differences in cell types and gene expression were evident. Finally, we identified the cell types that express genes implicated in glaucoma in all five species. Together, our results provide foundations for investigating the pathogenesis of glaucoma and for using model systems to assess mechanisms and potential interventions.

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