Mechanisms of peptain-mediated neuroprotection in retinal ganglion cells




Johnson, Gretchen A.
Pham, Jennifer
Kodati, Bindu
Krishnamoorthy, Raghu
Nagaraj, Ram
Stankowska, Dorota


0000-0003-0965-3625 (Pham, Jennifer)
0000-0001-7330-269X (Johnson, Gretchen A.)

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PURPOSE: To determine mechanisms underlying neuroprotective effects of the core peptide of alpha-B crystallin, peptain-1 (P1) conjugated to a cell-permeable peptide CPP (P1-CPP) in retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) in a rodent model of glaucoma. METHODS: Intraocular pressure (IOP) was elevated in Brown Norway (BN) rats and intravitreally injected with 2 µl of either P1-CPP or vehicle, once a week for a period of 2 weeks. Rats were euthanized, primary adult RGCs were isolated by the immunopanning method. Total RNA was isolated using the Trizol/column method. RNA-sequencing was performed using an Illumina platform. The resulting FASTQ files were uploaded into Galaxy for analysis with FASTQC, RNASTAR, feature counts, and finally DESeq2. The results from DESeq2 were then assessed with Qiagen's Ingenuity Pathway Analysis (IPA) to identify significantly upregulated pathways. Relative Creb-1 expression normalized to reference gene GAPDH was determined in IOP-P1-CPP and IOP-vehicle treated rat RGCs. Briefly, quantitative Polymerase Chain Reaction (qPCR) was performed using BioRad's PrimePCR Assay and SsoAdvanced Universal SYBR Green Supermix on the BioRad's CFX96 Real-Time System C1000 Touch Thermal Cycler. RESULTS: RNA-seq analysis from rat RGCs isolated following 2 weeks of IOP-elevation revealed that P1-CPP treated groups had several differentially expressed (DEGs), compared to vehicle-treated groups, including 6343 significantly upregulated and 5960 significantly downregulated. Some significantly upregulated pathways following P1-CPP treatment include phagosome formation, synaptic long-term depression, and CREB signaling in neurons. The IOP and vehicle-treated groups, when compared to the naïve group, demonstrated a decreased expression of members of the CREB signaling pathway (Creb-1, c-RAF, MEK1/2, ERK1/2, and p90RSK). This decline was prevented by P1-CPP treatment. Quantitative PCR further confirmed the RNA-seq findings of the increased expression of Creb-1 in P1-CPP treated rats compared to that of vehicle-treated group. CONCLUSIONS: Mechanism of action of P1-CPP in a rodent model of glaucoma includes the activation of the pro-survival CREB signaling pathway, phagosome formation, and long-term synaptic depression to prevent cell death and vision loss.