Infoscience

Journal article

Triggering of Bcl-2-related pathway is associated with apoptosis of photoreceptors in Rpe65(-/-) mouse model of Leber's Congenital Amaurosis

Mutations in RPE65 protein is characterized by the loss of photoreceptors, although the molecular pathways triggering retinal cell death remain largely unresolved. The role of the Bcl-2 family of proteins in retinal degeneration is still controversial. However, alteration in Bcl-2-related proteins has been observed in several models of retinal injury. In particular, Bax has been suggested to play a crucial role in apoptotic pathways in murine glaucoma model as well as in retinal detachment-associated cell death. We demonstrated that Bcl-2-related signaling pathway is involved in Rpe65-dependent apoptosis of photoreceptors during development of the disease. Pro-apoptotic Bax alpha and beta isoforms were upregulated in diseased retina. This was associated with a progressive reduction of anti-apoptotic Bcl-2, reflecting imbalanced Bcl-2/Bax ratio as the disease progresses. Moreover, specific translocation of Bax beta from cytosol to mitochondria was observed in Rpe65-deficient retina. This correlated with the initiation of photoreceptor cell loss at 4 months of age, and further increased during disease development. Altogether, these data suggest that Bcl-2-apoptotic pathway plays a crucial role in Leber's congenital amaurosis disease. They further highlight a new regulatory mechanism of Bax-dependent apoptosis based on regulated expression and activation of specific isoforms of this protein.

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