Cytokines and growth factors play important roles in mammalian ocular development and maintenance. Recent studies have indicated that some of these ligands can activate signal transducer and activator of transcription factors (STATs) and modulate gene transcription. The purpose of this study was to investigate the expression and activation of STAT proteins in the developing mouse retina. Anti-STAT and anti-phosphorylated STAT antibodies were used to detect the expression and activation of STATs in embryonic and postnatal neuronal retina, ciliary margin, and retinal pigment epithelium (RPE). In situ hybridization and Western blot were also employed. In embryonic stages, all STAT proteins were expressed in the neuronal retina in distinct cell populations at different embryonic stages. For example, Stat3 expression and activation gradually increased in the inner neuroblast layer and ciliary margin during development. In adult retina, Stat3 was detected in the inner nuclear layer and ganglion cells layers. Stat1 was strongly expressed in both outer and inner plexiform layers. Stat5a was clearly expressed in the outer/inner nuclear layer, the ganglion cell layer, and the inner plexiform layer. Strong expression of Stat3, Stat5a, and Stat6 was observed in the RPE. Activated Stat3 and Stat5a were found in the neural retina and the RPE. Distinct STAT proteins were present in different cell populations in neuronal retina and RPE suggesting multiple functions of STATs in mammalian eye development. Studies of STAT signal pathways in the eye may contribute to the understanding of molecular mechanisms in control of ocular development and pathogenesis.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Sensory Systems
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience