Bcl-2, Bcl-xL, and p-AKT are involved in neuroprotective effects of transcription factor Brn3b in an ocular hypertension rat model of glaucoma

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Purpose: Brn3b is a class IV POU domain transcription factor that plays an important role in the development of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs), RGC survival, and particularly axon growth and pathfinding. Our previous study demonstrated that recombinant adenoassociated virus serotype 2 (rAAV-2)-mediated overexpression of Brn3b in RGCs promoted neuroprotection in a rodent model of glaucoma. However, the mechanisms underlying neuroprotection of RGCs in rats overexpressing Brn3b in animal models of glaucoma remain largely unknown. The goal of this study was to understand some of the mechanisms underlying the neuroprotection of RGCs overexpressing Brn3b during intraocular pressure (IOP) elevation in Brown Norway rats. Methods: One eye of Brown Norway rats (Rattus norvegicus) was injected with an AAV construct encoding either green fluorescent protein (GFP; recombinant adenoassociated virus-green fluorescent protein, rAAV-hSyn-GFP) or Brn3b (rAAV-hSyn-Brn3b). Expression of antiapoptotic proteins, including B cell lymphoma/leukemia-2 (Bcl-2) family proteins (Bcl-2 and Bcl-xL), and p-AKT, was observed following immunostaining of rat retinas that overexpress Brn3b. In a different set of experiments, intraocular pressure was elevated in one eye of Brown Norway rats, which was followed by intravitreal injection with AAV constructs encoding either GFP (rAAV-CMV-GFP) or Brn3b (rAAV-CMV-Brn3b). Retinal sections were stained for prosurvival factors, including Bcl-2, Bcl-XL, and p-AKT. Results: AAV-mediated expression of transcription factor Brn3b promoted statistically significant upregulation of the Bcl-2 protein and increased expression of p-AKT in RGCs of Brown Norway rats. In addition, following IOP elevation, AAV-mediated Brn3b expression also statistically significantly increased levels of Bcl-2 in the RGC layer in Brown Norway rats. Conclusions: Adenoassociated virus-mediated Brn3b protein overexpression may promote neuroprotection by upregulating key antiapoptotic proteins, including Bcl-2, Bcl-xL, and p-AKT, in animal models of glaucoma.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1048-1061
Number of pages14
JournalMolecular vision
StatePublished - 16 Aug 2016


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