Spliceosome protein (SRp) regulation of glucocorticoid receptor isoforms and glucocorticoid response in human trabecular meshwork cells

Ankur Jain, Robert J. Wordinger, Thomas Yorio, Abbot F. Clark

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


PURPOSE. Glaucoma is a leading cause of visual impairment and blindness, with elevated intraocular pressure (IOP) as a major causative risk factor. Glucocorticoid (GC) therapy causes morphologic and biochemical changes in the trabecular meshwork (TM), an ocular tissue involved in regulating IOP, which can lead to the development of glaucoma in susceptible individuals (steroid responders). Steroid responders comprise 40% of the general population and are at higher risk of developing glaucoma. In addition, a majority of glaucoma patients are steroid responders. Differential distribution of various isoforms of GC receptor (GR) may be responsible for this heterogeneity in the steroid response. The alternatively spliced GR isoform acts as dominant negative regulator of classical GRβ transcriptional activity. mRNA splicing is mediated by spliceosomes, which include serine-arginine rich proteins (SRps). The purpose of this study was to determine whether specific SRps regulate levels of these isoforms and thereby GC response in TM cells. METHODS. Quantitative RT-PCR, Western blot analysis, and immunocytochemistry were used to determine the differential expression of different SRps (SRp20, 30c, and 40) in human normal and glaucomatous TM cell strains. Bioinformatics was used to find putative binding sites for SRp20 and SRp40 on exon 9 of the GR gene. A peptide modulator of splicing (bombesin) and SRp expression vectors were used to modulate SRp levels and determine their effects on GRα/GRβ ratios as well as dexamethasone (DEX) responsiveness via GRE- luciferase reporter activity, fibronectin, and myocilin induction in TM cells. RESULTS. SRp20, SRp30c, and SRp40 regulate GR splicing and the GC response in TM cells. Modulation of SRp levels altered the GRβ/α ratio that correlated with DEX responsiveness. Bombesin decreased SRp20; increased SRp30c, SRp40 levels, and GRβ/α ratio, and suppressed DEX response in TM cells. CONCLUSIONS. Relative levels of SRp20, SRp30c, and SRp40 in TM cells control differential expression of the two alternatively spliced isoforms of the GR and thereby regulate GC responsiveness. Different levels and/or activities of these SRps may account for differential GC sensitivity among the normal and glaucoma populations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)857-866
Number of pages10
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2012


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