Glaucoma is a multifactorial progressive ocular pathology, clinically presenting with damage to the retina and optic nerve, ultimately leading to blindness. Retinal ganglion cell loss in glaucoma ultimately results in vision loss. Vesl/Homer proteins are scaffolding proteins that are critical for maintaining synaptic integrity by clustering, organizing and functionally regulating synaptic proteins. Current anti-glaucoma therapies target IOP as the sole modifiable clinical parameters. Long-term pharmacotherapy and surgical treatment do not prevent gradual visual field loss as the disease progresses, highlighting the need for new complementary, alternative and comprehensive treatment approaches. Vesl/Homer expression was measured in the retinae of DBA/2J mice, a preclinical genetic glaucoma model with spontaneous mutations resulting in a phenotype reminiscent of chronic human pigmentary glaucoma. Vesl/Homer proteins were differentially expressed in the aged, glaucomatous DBA/2J retina, both at the transcriptional and translational level. Immunoreactivity for the long Vesl-1L/Homer 1c isoform, but not of the immediate early gene product Vesl-1S/Homer 1a was increased in the synaptic layers of the retina. This increased protein level of Vesl-1L/Homer 1c was correlated with phenotypes of increased disease severity and a decrease in visual performance. The increased expression of Vesl-1L/Homer 1c in the glaucomatous retina likely results in increased intracellular Ca2+ release through enhancement of synaptic coupling. The ensuing Ca2+ toxicity may thus activate neurodegenerative pathways and lead to the progressive loss of synaptic function in glaucoma. Our data suggest that higher levels of Vesl-1L/Homer 1c generate a more severe disease phenotype and may represent a viable target for therapy development.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Sensory Systems