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Genetics. 2003 Feb;163(2):637-45.

Transcription profiling in Drosophila eyes that overexpress the human glaucoma-associated trabecular meshwork-inducible glucocorticoid response protein/myocilin (TIGR/MYOC).

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Department of Ophthalmology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina 27710, USA.


The availability of the human genome sequence together with sequenced genomes of several model organisms provides an unprecedented opportunity to utilize comparative genomic approaches for the discovery of genes that contribute to human disease. We have used transgenic flies to establish an experimental paradigm for the discovery of genes that might be involved in the development of glaucoma, a prevalent disease affecting a large segment of the population. Inherited mutations in the trabecular meshwork-inducible glucocorticoid response protein/myocilin (TIGR/MYOC) are associated with juvenile glaucoma and some cases of adult primary open angle glaucoma. The interrelationships between TIGR/MYOC and the development of glaucoma, however, are not understood. We show that overexpression of human TIGR/MYOC in the eyes of Drosophila melanogaster results in distortion of ommatidia accompanied by fluid discharge. High-density oligonucleotide microarrays identified altered expression of 50 transcripts in response to TIGR/MYOC overexpression, including homologs of aquaporin-4 and cytochrome-P450, previously associated with glaucoma, and several proteins of unknown function. We found that expression of Swiss Cheese, a neurodegenerative protein, increased 34-fold and that its human ortholog, neuropathy target esterase, is also upregulated in response to adenovirus-mediated overexpression of TIGR/MYOC in perfused postmortem human eyes. Our observations establish the Drosophila eye as an advantageous system for the discovery of genes that are associated with glaucoma.

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