Endothelin-1 Mediated Decrease in Mitochondrial Gene Expression and Bioenergetics Contribute to Neurodegeneration of Retinal Ganglion Cells

Renuka M. Chaphalkar, Dorota L. Stankowska, Shaoqing He, Bindu Kodati, Nicole Phillips, Jude Prah, Shaohua Yang, Raghu R. Krishnamoorthy

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Endothelin-1 (ET-1) is a vasoactive peptide that is elevated in aqueous humor as well as circulation of primary open angle glaucoma (POAG) patients. ET-1 has been shown to promote degeneration of optic nerve axons and apoptosis of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs), however, the precise mechanisms are still largely unknown. In this study, RNA-seq analysis was used to assess changes in ET-1 mediated gene expression in primary RGCs, which revealed that 23 out of 156 differentially expressed genes (DEGs) had known or predicted mitochondrial function, of which oxidative phosphorylation emerged as the top-most enriched pathway. ET-1 treatment significantly decreased protein expression of key mitochondrial genes including cytochrome C oxidase copper chaperone (COX17) and ATP Synthase, H+ transporting, Mitochondrial Fo Complex (ATP5H) in primary RGCs and in vivo following intravitreal ET-1 injection in rats. A Seahorse ATP rate assay revealed a significant decrease in the rate of mitochondrial ATP production following ET-1 treatment. IOP elevation in Brown Norway rats showed a trend towards decreased expression of ATP5H. Our results demonstrate that ET-1 produced a decrease in expression of vital components of mitochondrial electron transport chain, which compromise bioenergetics and suggest a mechanism by which ET-1 promotes neurodegeneration of RGCs in glaucoma.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3571
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2020


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