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Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2009 Sep;50(9):4162-72. doi: 10.1167/iovs.08-2861. Epub 2009 Mar 25.

Molecular profiling of conjunctival epithelial side-population stem cells: atypical cell surface markers and sources of a slow-cycling phenotype.

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  • 1Department of Ophthalmology, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, New York 10029-6574, USA.

Abstract

PURPOSE:

Side-population (SP) cells isolated from limbal and conjunctival epithelia derive from cells that are slow cycling in vivo, a known feature of tissue stem cells. The purpose of this study was to define the molecular signature of the conjunctival SP cells and identify markers and signaling pathways associated with the phenotype of these cells.

METHODS:

Overnight cultures of freshly isolated human conjunctival epithelial cells stained with Hoechst 33342 were sorted by flow cytometry into SP and non-SP cohorts. Isolated RNA was processed for microarray analysis using a commercial oligonucleotide spotted array. Results were validated at the gene and protein levels by quantitative PCR and immunologic methods. Data mining methods were used to identify cellular processes relevant for stem cell function.

RESULTS:

Comparative analyses of transcripts expression based on present and absent software calls across four replicate experiments identified 16,993 conjunctival epithelial transcripts including 10,266 unique known genes of approximately 24,000 represented in the array. Of those genes, 1254 and 363 were overexpressed (>2-fold) or underexpressed (<0.5-fold), respectively, in the SP. The overexpressed set included genes coding for proteins that have been associated with (1) embryonic development and/or stem cell self renewal (MSX, MEIS, ID, Hes1, and SIX homeodomain genes); (2) cell survival (e.g., CYP1A1 to degrade aromatic genotoxic compounds); (3) cycling rate (e.g., DUSPs and Pax6 to foster slow cycling); and (4) genes whose expression is not typical in epithelia (e.g., CD62E).

CONCLUSIONS:

The molecular signature of conjunctival SP cells is consistent with a stem cell phenotype. Their gene expression patterns underpin slow cycling and plasticity, features associated with tissue stem cells. The results provide valuable insights for the preservation and/or expansion of epithelial stem cells.

PMID:
19324848
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC2759864
Free PMC Article
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