A splice variant of trkB and brain-derived neurotrophic factor are co- expressed in retinal pigmented epithelial cells and promote differentiated characteristics

Sean F. Hackett, Zvi Friedman, John Freund, Carlos Schoenfeld, Rory Curtis, Peter S. Distefano, Peter A. Campochiaro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

There is evidence suggesting reciprocal trophic interactions between photoreceptors and the retinal pigmented epithelium (RPE), but the factors involved have not been identified. In this study, we investigated the hypothesis that one or more known neurotrophic factors act upon the RPE. Cultured human and freshly isolated bovine RPE cells demonstrated saturable specific binding for [125I]labeled BDNF, NT-4/5 and NT-3 with little specific binding for CNTF and none for NGF. Cross-competition experiments showed that BDNF is the preferred ligand and cross-linking of [125I]BDNF resulted in a doublet at 160 kd that was increased in RPE cells incubated in all-trans retinoic acid. There was basal phosphorylation of a 145 kd protein recognized by an anti-trk antibody that was increased in RPE cells pulsed with BDNF. RT-PCR with primers spanning the transmembrane domain demonstrated that RPE cells express trkB mRNA lacking a region homologous to exon 9 of chicken trkB, a splice variant that has been demonstrated to preferentially interact with BDNF. Northern blots demonstrated that cultured RPE cells also express mRNA for BDNF. BDNF did not stimulate proliferation or increase survival of RPE cells in serum-free medium, but promoted a differentiated morphology and increased the expression of cellular retinaldehyde binding protein, a marker of the differentiated state in RPE cells. An RPE cell line that spontaneously shows differentiated features showed a high level of BDNF mRNA. These data demonstrate that RPE cells express a short splice variant of trkB whose activation correlates with expression of differentiated characteristics and the cells themselves are capable of producing a ligand for the receptors. Signaling through trkB could play a role in differentiation of RPE cells during development and maintenance of the differentiated state in adult RPE.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)201-212
Number of pages12
JournalBrain research
Volume789
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 13 1998

Keywords

  • BDNF
  • Differentiation
  • Photoreceptors
  • Retinal pigmented epithelium
  • TrkB
  • Trophic factors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Developmental Biology

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