Loss of Notch1 Disrupts the Barrier Repair in the Corneal Epithelium


The corneal epithelium is the outermost layer of the cornea that directly faces the outside environment, hence it plays a critical barrier function. Previously, conditional loss of Notch1 on the ocular surface was found to cause inflammation and keratinization of the corneal epithelium. This was in part attributed to impaired vitamin A metabolism, loss of the meibomian glands and recurrent eyelid trauma. We hypothesized that Notch1 plays an essential role in the corneal epithelial barrier function and is a contributing factor in the pathologic changes in these mice. Notch1 was conditionally deleted in adult Notch1(flox/flox), K14-Cre-ERT(+/-) mice using hydroxy-tamoxifen. The results indicated that conditional deletion of Notch1 on the ocular surface leads to progressive impairment of the epithelial barrier function before the onset of corneal opacification and keratinization. Loss of the barrier was demonstrated both by an increase in in vivo corneal fluorescein staining and by enhanced penetration of a small molecule through the epithelium. Corneal epithelial wounding resulted in significant delay in recovery of the barrier function in conditional Notch1(-/-) mice compared to wild type. Mice with conditional deletion of Notch1 did not demonstrate any evidence of dry eyes based on aqueous tear production and had normal conjunctival goblet cells. In a calcium switch experiment in vitro, Notch1(-/-) cells demonstrated delayed membrane localization of the tight junction protein ZO-1 consistent with a defect in the epithelial tight junction formation. These findings highlight the role of Notch1 in epithelial differentiation and suggest that intrinsic defects in the corneal epithelial barrier recovery after wounding is an important contributing factor to the development of inflammatory keratinization in Notch1(-/-) mice.

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0069113

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@inproceedings{Movahedan2013LossON, title={Loss of Notch1 Disrupts the Barrier Repair in the Corneal Epithelium}, author={Asadolah Movahedan and Neda Afsharkhamseh and Hossein M. Sagha and Jarna R. Shah and Behrad Y. Milani and Farnoud Y. Milani and Hercules D. Logothetis and Chi-chao Chan and Ali Reza Djalilian}, booktitle={PloS one}, year={2013} }