The Corneal Epithelial Stem Cell

Moore, J.E.; McMullen, C.B.T.; Mahon, G.; Adamis, A.P.
May 2002
DNA & Cell Biology;May2002, Vol. 21 Issue 5/6, p443
Academic Journal
The aim of this paper was to develop a GFP-expressing transgenic mouse model for the keratoepithelioplasty and to use this to follow the outcome of this form of graft, when placed on an inflamed corneal surface. Further aims were to characterize both the graft and the epithelial surface of the mouse and rat cornea using putative stem cell markers (P63 and Telomerase) and marker of cell differentiation (14-3-3 sigma). Keratepithelioplasty was carried out using a GFP transgenic mouse cornea as donor tissue. Fluorescent epithelial outgrowth from each keratepithelioplasty was scored and quantified. Donor corneal graft tissue was obtained from the paracentral region or the anatomical limbal region of murine corneas. Paracentral donor grafts (n = 20) consistently demonstrated a significant increase in proliferative potential compared to grafts obtained from the anatomical limbal region of the mouse cornea (n = 25) (P = 0.000, Mann-Whitney U). Correspondingly, P63 expression was maximal in the paracentral region of the mouse cornea, in keeping with the demonstrated increased proliferative potential of donor grafts harvested from this region of the cornea. The murine corneal epithelium demonstrated decreased rather than increased cellular layers at the limbal region, in contrast to that of the rat or human epithelium. In addition, as a general finding in all species tested, there was an apparent increase noted in P63 expression in basal corneal epithelial cells in regions that had increased cellular layers (limbus in humans and rats and the paracentral corneal region in the mouse). Epithelium, which had migrated from donor grafts onto recipient corneas, retained P63 expression for the period of time examined (up to 3 days postengraftment). In addition, the conjunctival surface of an injured conjunctivalized displayed an abnormal pattern of P63 expression. Telomerase expression was widespread throughout many layers of both the murine and rat corneal epithelium. In the mouse and rat corneal epithelium P63 expression was maximal in areas of increased proliferative potential. Its expression, however, was not confined to stem cells alone. Migrating cells from transplanted keratoepithelial grafts retained P63 expression at least in the early stages post-transplantation. Finally, damaged conjunctivalized corneas displayed an abnormal P63 expression pattern when compared to either normal conjunctiva or normal cornea.


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