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Cell Tissue Res. 2000 Aug;301(2):217-23.

Ezrin, a membrane-organizing protein, as a polarization marker of the retinal pigment epithelium in vertebrates.

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Department of Ophthalmology, Helsinki University Central Hospital, Finland.


Immunoreactivity for ezrin, a membrane-organizing phosphoprotein that tethers actin microfilaments to cell membrane proteins, was evaluated as a polarization marker in the intraocular neuroepithelial cells of vertebrates, especially in the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE). Six fetal human eyes representing the 14th-28th gestational weeks, 9 normal adult eyes, 12 eyes with intraocular tumors, and 26 eyes from 15 other vertebrate species were analyzed by immunohistochemistry using the avidin-biotinylated peroxidase complex (ABC) method and monoclonal antibody (mAb) 3C12 to ezrin. The apical cytoplasm and microvilli of the human RPE always reacted with mAb 3C12, but the basal cytoplasm was labeled in reactive RPE only. In autopsy eyes and if fixation was delayed, ezrin immunoreactivity in RPE was more diffuse. Developing RPE became gradually immunoreactive from the 14th week of gestation onward. The microvilli of the baboon, pig, raccoon dog, cow, and rat RPE cells were likewise labeled, and their basal cytoplasm was variably immunoreactive as well, but the microvilli of the avian RPE did not react with the antibody used. In all six mammals mentioned, both layers of the ciliary epithelium and the anterior iris epithelium reacted for ezrin, and the posterior epithelium was weakly labeled in pig, cow, and rat eyes. Normal peripheral and reactive human retina, and normal baboon, pig, raccoon dog, cow, rat, black grouse, and jay eyes, showed immunoreaction for ezrin in Muller cells, usually in their microvilli. Ezrin is widely found in RPE and anterior segment neuroepithelia of the mammalian eye, in which it may segregate membrane proteins to specific membrane surfaces, especially to the apical microvilli of the RPE, which intimately interact with outer segments of photoreceptor cells. The ezrin gene on human chromosome 6q25-26 is consequently a candidate gene for causing retinal degenerations.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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