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J Ophthalmol. 2013;2013:453934. doi: 10.1155/2013/453934. Epub 2013 Nov 14.

Systems Biology Profiling of AMD on the Basis of Gene Expression.

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Laboratory of Immunology, National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.


Genetic pathways underlying the initiation and progression of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) have not been yet sufficiently revealed, and the correlations of AMD's genotypes, phenotypes, and disease spectrum are still awaiting resolution. We are tackling both problems with systems biology phylogenetic parsimony analysis. Gene expression data (GSE29801: NCBI, Geo) of macular and extramacular specimens of the retinas and retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) choroid complexes representing dry AMD without geographic atrophy (GA), choroidal neovascularization (CNV), GA, as well as pre-AMD and subclinical pre-AMD were polarized against their respective normal specimens and then processed through the parsimony program MIX to produce phylogenetic cladograms. Gene lists from cladograms' nodes were processed in Genomatix GePS to reveal the affected signaling pathway networks. Cladograms exposed a highly heterogeneous transcriptomic profiles within all the conventional phenotypes. Moreover, clades and nodal synapomorphies did not support the classical AMD phenotypes as valid transcriptomal genotypes. Gene lists defined by cladogram nodes showed that the AMD-related deregulations occurring in the neural retina were different from those in RPE-choroidal tissue. Our analysis suggests a more complex transcriptional profile of the phenotypes than expected. Evaluation of the disease in much earlier stages is needed to elucidate the initial events of AMD.

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