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Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2002 Mar;43(3):864-9.

In vitro characterization of a spontaneously immortalized human Müller cell line (MIO-M1).

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Division of Cell Biology, Institute of Ophthalmology, Bath Street, London EC1V 9EL, UK.



To characterize a spontaneously immortalized human Müller cell line and to determine whether it retains the characteristics of primary isolated cells without undergoing differentiation in vitro.


An immortalized cell line obtained from human retina was investigated for the expression of known markers of Müller cells, including cellular retinaldehyde binding protein (CRALBP), glutamine synthetase, epidermal growth factor receptor (EGF-R), alpha-smooth muscle actin (alpha-SMA), and glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP). Also examined were the morphologic features of these cells, by scanning and transmission electron microscopy, and their functional characteristics, by electrogenic responses to glutamate. In addition, comparative studies were made of these cells with primary cultures of freshly isolated human Müller cells.


The cells expressed CRALBP, EGF-R, glutamine synthetase, and alpha-SMA, as judged by confocal microscopy and Western blot analysis of cell lysates. Western blot analysis did not detect GFAP in cell lysates, but confocal microscopy showed that occasional cells expressed GFAP after detachment from the monolayer. The morphologic features of the cells examined, as judged by scanning and transmission electron microscopy, resemble those of cells derived from primary cell cultures. They possess villous projections on their apical surfaces and contain loose bundles of microtubules aligned parallel to one another and the long axis of the cell process. Characteristically, they contain abundant deposits of glycogen particles that do not differ from those seen in primary isolated cells. Preliminary recordings with intracellular electrodes revealed that these cells have properties similar to those described for mammalian Müller cells and depolarize in response to L-glutamate without significant change in membrane resistance, consistent with the well-established electrogenic uptake of this amino acid.


A spontaneously immortalized Müller cell line was characterized that retains the characteristics of primary isolated cells in culture. To the authors' knowledge, it constitutes the first human Müller cell line reported in the literature. It has been named MIO-M1 (Moorfields/Institute of Ophthalmology-Müller 1) after the authors' institution. Availability of this human cell line will facilitate studies designed to obtain a better understanding of the role of Müller cells in normal and pathologic conditions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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