The retina/RPE proteome in chick myopia and hyperopia models: Commonalities with inherited and age-related ocular pathologies Academic Article uri icon


  • Purpose:Microarray and RNA sequencing studies in the chick model of early optically induced refractive error have implicated thousands of genes, many of which have also been linked to ocular pathologies in humans, including age-related macular degeneration (AMD), choroidal neovascularization, glaucoma, and cataract. These findings highlight the potential relevance of the chick model to understanding both refractive error development and the progression to secondary pathological complications. The present study aimed to determine whether proteomic responses to early optical defocus in the chick share similarities with these transcriptome-level changes, particularly in terms of dysregulation of pathology-related molecular processes. Methods:Chicks were assigned to a lens condition (monocular +10 D [diopters] to induce hyperopia, -10 D to induce myopia, or no lens) on post-hatch day 5. Biometric measures were collected following a further 6 h and 48 h of rearing. The retina/RPE was then removed and prepared for liquid chromatography-electrospray ionization-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-ESI-MS/MS) on an LTQ-Orbitrap Elite. Raw data were processed using MaxQuant, and differentially abundant proteins were identified using moderated t tests (fold change ≥1.5, Benjamini-Hochberg adjusted p<0.05). These differentially abundant proteins were compared with the genes and proteins implicated in previous exploratory transcriptome and proteomic studies of refractive error, as well as the genes and proteins linked to the ocular pathologies listed above for which myopia or hyperopia are risk factors. Finally, gene set enrichment analysis (GSEA) was used to assess whether gene sets from the Human Phenotype Ontology database were enriched in the lens groups relative to the no lens groups, and at the top or bottom of the protein data ranked by Spearman's correlation with refraction at 6 and 48 h. Results:Refractive errors of -2.63 D ± 0.31 D (mean ± standard error, SE) and 3.90 D ± 0.37 D were evident in the negative and positive lens groups, respectively, at 6 h. By 48 h, refractive compensation to both lens types was almost complete (negative lens -9.70 D ± 0.41 D, positive lens 7.70 D ± 0.44 D). More than 140 differentially abundant proteins were identified in each lens group relative to the no lens controls at both time points. No proteins were differentially abundant between the negative and positive lens groups at 6 h, and 13 were differentially abundant at 48 h. As there was substantial overlap in the proteins implicated across the six comparisons, a total of 390 differentially abundant proteins were identified. Sixty-five of these 390 proteins had previously been implicated in transcriptome studies of refractive error animal models, and 42 had previously been associated with AMD, choroidal neovascularization, glaucoma, and/or cataract in humans. The overlap of differentially abundant proteins with AMD-associated genes and proteins was statistically significant for all conditions (Benjamini-Hochberg adjusted p<0.05), with over-representation analysis implicating ontologies related to oxidative stress, cholesterol homeostasis, and melanin biosynthesis. GSEA identified significant enrichment of genes associated with abnormal electroretinogram, photophobia, and nyctalopia phenotypes in the proteins negatively correlated with ocular refraction across the lens groups at 6 h. The implicated proteins were primarily linked to photoreceptor dystrophies and mitochondrial disorders in humans. Conclusions:Optical defocus in the chicks induces rapid changes in the abundance of many proteins in the retina/RPE that have previously been linked to inherited and age-related ocular pathologies in humans. Similar changes have been identified in a meta-analysis of chick refractive error transcriptome studies, highlighting the chick as a model for the study of optically induced stress with possible relevance to understanding the development of a range of pathological states in humans.

publication date

  • 2017