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J Biol Chem. 2012 Nov 23;287(48):40779-92. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M112.411181. Epub 2012 Sep 25.

The leukocyte chemotactic receptor FPR1 is functionally expressed on human lens epithelial cells.

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  • 1Molecular Signaling Section, Laboratory of Molecular Immunology, NIAID, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.



Lens degeneration in Fpr1(-/-) mice prompted us to search for functional FPR1 expression directly on lens epithelial cells.


FPR1 is functionally expressed on human lens epithelial cells but has atypical properties compared with hematopoietic cell FPR1.


Lens epithelial cell FPR1 may be involved in development and maintenance of the lens.


This is the first link between non-hematopoietic expression of FPR1 and an ophthalmologic phenotype. Formyl peptide receptor 1 (FPR1) is a G protein-coupled chemoattractant receptor expressed mainly on leukocytes. Surprisingly, aging Fpr1(-/-) mice develop spontaneous lens degeneration without inflammation or infection (J.-L. Gao et al., manuscript in preparation). Therefore, we hypothesized that FPR1 is functionally expressed directly on lens epithelial cells, the only cell type in the lens. Consistent with this, the human fetal lens epithelial cell line FHL 124 expressed FPR1 mRNA and was strongly FPR1 protein-positive by Western blot and FACS. Competition binding using FPR1 ligands N-formyl-Nle-Leu-Phe-Nle-Tyr-Lys (Nle = Norleucine), formylmethionylleucylphenylalanine, and peptide W revealed the same profile for FHL 124 cells, neutrophils, and FPR1-transfected HEK 293 cells. Saturation binding with fluorescein-labeled N-formyl-Nle-Leu-Phe-Nle-Tyr-Lys revealed ~2500 specific binding sites on FHL-124 cells (K(D) ~ 0.5 nm) versus ~40,000 sites on neutrophils (K(D) = 3.2 nm). Moreover, formylmethionylleucylphenylalanine induced pertussis toxin-sensitive Ca(2+) flux in FHL 124 cells, consistent with classic G(i)-mediated FPR1 signaling. FHL 124 cell FPR1 was atypical in that it resisted agonist-induced internalization. Expression of FPR1 was additionally supported by detection of the intact full-length open reading frame in sequenced cDNA from FHL 124 cells. Thus, FHL-124 cells express functional FPR1, which is consistent with a direct functional role for FPR1 in the lens, as suggested by the phenotype of Fpr1 knock-out mice.

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