Transcriptome analysis reveals autophagy as regulator of TGFβ/Smad-induced fibrogenesis in trabecular meshwork cells.
The trabecular meshwork (TM) is a specialized ocular tissue, which is responsible, together with the Schlemm's canal (SC), for maintaining appropriate levels of intraocular pressure. Dysfunction of these tissues leads to ocular hypertension and increases the risk for developing glaucoma. Previous work by our laboratory revealed dysregulated autophagy in aging and in glaucomatous TM cells. In order to gain more insight in the role of autophagy in the TM pathophysiology, we have conducted transcriptome and functional network analyses of TM primary cells with silenced expression of the autophagy genes Atg5 and Atg7. Atg5/7-deficient TM cells showed changes in transcript levels of several fibrotic genes, including TGFβ2, BAMBI, and SMA. Furthermore, genetic and pharmacological inhibition of autophagy was associated with a parallel reduction in TGFβ-induced fibrosis, caused by a BAMBI-mediated reduced activation of Smad2/3 signaling in autophagy-deficient cells. At the same time, TGFβ treatment led to Smad2/3-dependent dysregulation of autophagy in TM cells, characterized by increased LC3-II levels and autophagic vacuoles content. Together, our results indicate a cross-talk between autophagy and TGFβ signaling in TM cells.
Nettesheim, A; Shim, MS; Hirt, J; Liton, PB
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