Abnormal corneal epithelial maintenance in mice heterozygous for the micropinna microphthalmia mutation Mp

Panagiotis Douvaras, Natalie J Dorà, Richard L Mort, Emily J Lodge, Robert E Hill, John D West

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We investigated the corneal morphology of adult Mp/+ mice, which are heterozygous for the micropinna microphthalmia mutation, and identified several abnormalities, which implied that corneal epithelial maintenance was abnormal. The Mp/+ corneal epithelium was thin, loosely packed and contained goblet cells in older mice. Evidence also suggested that the barrier function was compromised. However, there was no major effect on corneal epithelial cell turnover and mosaic patterns of radial stripes indicated that radial cell movement was normal. Limbal blood vessels formed an abnormally wide limbal vasculature ring, K19-positive cells were distributed more widely than normal and K12 was weakly expressed in the peripheral cornea. This raises the possibilities that the limbal-corneal boundary was poorly defined or the limbus was wider than normal. BrdU label-retaining cell numbers and quantitative clonal analysis suggested that limbal epithelial stem cell numbers were not depleted and might be higher than normal. However, as corneal epithelial homeostasis was abnormal, it is possible that Mp/+ stem cell function was impaired. It has been shown recently that the Mp mutation involves a chromosome 18 inversion that disrupts the Fbn2 and Isoc1 genes and produces an abnormal, truncated fibrillin-2(MP) protein. This abnormal protein accumulates in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) of cells that normally express Fbn2 and causes ER stress. It was also shown that Fbn2 is expressed in the corneal stroma but not the corneal epithelium, suggesting that the presence of truncated fibrillin-2(MP) protein in the corneal stroma disrupts corneal epithelial homeostasis in Mp/+ mice.

Original languageEnglish
JournalExperimental Eye Research
Early online date26 May 2016
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2016


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