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Dev Neurobiol December 1, 2009; 69 (14): 950-8.
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Complete reconstruction of the retinal laminar structure from a cultured retinal pigment epithelium is triggered by altered tissue interaction and promoted by overlaid extracellular matrices.

Kuriyama F , Ueda Y , Araki M .

The retina regenerates from retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells by transdifferentiation in the adult newt and Xenopus laevis when it is surgically removed. This was studied under a novel culture condition, and we succeeded, for the first time, in developing a complete retinal laminar structure from a single epithelial sheet of RPE. We cultured a Xenopus RPE monolayer sheet isolated from the choroid on a filter cup with gels overlaid and found that the retinal tissue structure differentiated with all retinal layers present. In the culture, RPE cells isolated themselves from the culture substratum (filter membrane), migrated, and reattached to the overlaid gel, on which they initiated transdifferentiation. This was exactly the same as observed during in vivo retina regeneration of X. laevis. In contrast, when RPE monolayers were cultured similarly without isolation from the choroid, RPE cells proliferated, but remained pigmented instead of transdifferentiating, indicating that alteration in tissue interaction triggers transdifferentiation. We then examined under the conventional tissue culture condition whether altered RPE-choroid interaction induces Pax6 expression. Pax6 was upregulated in RPE cells soon after they were removed from the choroid, and this expression was not dependent of FGF2. FGF2 administration was needed for RPE cells to maintain Pax6 expression. From the present results, in addition to our previous ones, we propose a two-step mechanism of transdifferentiation: the first step is a reversible process and is initiated by the alteration of the cell-extracellular matrix and/or cell-cell interaction followed by Pax6 upregulation. FGF2 plays a key role in driving RPE cells into the second step, during which they differentiate into retinal stem cells.

PubMed ID: 19701886
Article link: Dev Neurobiol

Species referenced: Xenopus laevis
Genes referenced: fgf2 pax6 rho rpe

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