Multidestructive Pathways triggered in photoreceptor cell death of the RD mouse as determined through gene expression profiling

Baerbel Rohrer*, Francisco R. Pinto, Kathryn E. Hulse, Heather R. Lohr, Li Zhang, Jonas S. Almeida

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


In the rd/rd mouse, photoreceptor degeneration is due to a mutation of the rod-specific enzyme cGMP phosphodiesterase, resulting in permanently opened cGMP-gated cation channels in the rod outer segment membrane that allow Na + and Ca2+ ions to enter the cell, resulting in possibly toxic levels of Ca2+. To identify pathways involved in cell death of the rd/rd rods, we evaluated gene expression in the rd/rd and wild type (wt) mouse retina (U74A oligonucleotide arrays (Affymetrix)) over the known time course of photoreceptor degeneration. 181 genes passed the selection criteria (low standard deviation and high correlation between replicates), falling into six clusters. For any given pair of genes, an expression profile correlation distance and a semantic distance (one for each class of gene ontology terms) were established using newly designed software. Gene expression in rd/rd started to deviate from wt by postnatal day 10. The reduction in photoreceptor-specific genes followed the known time course of photoreceptor degeneration. Likewise the increase in transcription factors and apoptosis- and neuroinflammation- specific genes followed the kinetics of the rise in intracellular cGMP in the rod photoreceptors. In addition, genes coding for calcium-binding proteins and those implicated in tissue and vessel remodeling were increased. These results suggest that photoreceptor degeneration in the rd/rd mouse is a process starting with Ca2+ toxicity followed by secondary insults involving multidestructive pathways such as apoptosis and neuroinflammation, presumably boosting morphological changes. All of these components need to be addressed if rods are to be successfully protected.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)41903-41910
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number40
StatePublished - Oct 1 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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