The role of wnt/β-catenin signaling and k-cadherin in the regulation of intraocular pressure

Hannah C. Webber, Jaclyn Y. Bermudez, J. Cameron Millar, Weiming Mao, Abbot F. Clark

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


PURPOSE. Wnt/β-catenin signaling in the trabecular meshwork (TM) is required for maintaining normal intraocular pressure (IOP), although the mechanism(s) behind this are unknown. We hypothesize that Wnt/β-catenin signaling regulates IOP via β-catenin’s effects on cadherin junctions. METHODS. Nonglaucomatous primary human TM (NTM) cells were treated with or without 100 ng/ml Wnt3a, 1 lg/ml sFRP1, or both for 4 to 48 hours. Cells were immunostained for β-catenin, total cadherins, or cadherin isoforms. Membrane proteins or whole-cell lysates were isolated for Western immunoblotting and probed for cadherin isoforms. RNA was extracted for cDNA synthesis and qPCR analysis of cadherin expression. Some NTM cells were cultured on electric plates for cell impedance assays. Ad5.CMV recombinant adenoviruses encoding K-cadherin, and/or sFRP1 were injected into eyes of 4-to 6-month-old female BALB/cJ mice (n = 8–10). Conscious IOPs were assessed for 35 days. RESULTS. Upon Wnt3a treatment, total cadherin expression increased and β-catenin accumulated at the TM cell membrane and on processes formed between TM cells. qPCR showed that Wnt3a significantly increased K-cadherin expression in NTM cells (P < 0.01, n = 3), and Western immunoblotting showed that Wnt3a increased K-cadherin in NTM cells, which was inhibited by the addition of sFRP1. Cell impedance assays showed that Wnt3a treatment increased transcellular resistance and anti-K-cadherin siRNA decreased transcellular resistance (P < 0.001, n = 4–6). Our in vivo study showed that K-cadherin significantly decreased sFRP1-induced ocular hypertension (P < 0.05, n = 6). Western immunoblotting also showed that K-cadherin alleviated sFRP1-induced β-catenin decrease in mouse anterior segments. CONCLUSIONS. Our results suggest that cadherins play important roles in the regulation of TM homeostasis and IOP via the Wnt/β-catenin pathway.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1454-1466
Number of pages13
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2018


  • Cadherins
  • Glaucoma
  • Intraocular pressure
  • Mouse
  • Trabecular meshwork
  • Wnt signaling


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