Retinal atrophy, inflammation, phagocytic and metabolic disruptions develop in the MerTK-cleavage-resistant mouse model - Sorbonne Université Access content directly
Journal Articles Frontiers in Neuroscience Year : 2024

Retinal atrophy, inflammation, phagocytic and metabolic disruptions develop in the MerTK-cleavage-resistant mouse model

Abstract

In the eye, cells from the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) facing the neurosensory retina exert several functions that are all crucial for long-term survival of photoreceptors (PRs) and vision. Among those, RPE cells phagocytose under a circadian rhythm photoreceptor outer segment (POS) tips that are constantly subjected to light rays and oxidative attacks. The MerTK tyrosine kinase receptor is a key element of this phagocytic machinery required for POS internalization. Recently, we showed that MerTK is subjected to the cleavage of its extracellular domain to finely control its function. In addition, monocytes in retinal blood vessels can migrate inside the inner retina and differentiate into macrophages expressing MerTK, but their role in this context has not been studied yet. We thus investigated the ocular phenotype of MerTK cleavage-resistant (MerTK CR ) mice to understand the relevance of this characteristic on retinal homeostasis at the RPE and macrophage levels. MerTK CR retinae appear to develop and function normally, as observed in retinal sections, by electroretinogram recordings and optokinetic behavioral tests. Monitoring of MerTK CR and control mice between the ages of 3 and 18 months showed the development of large degenerative areas in the central retina as early as 4 months when followed monthly by optical coherence tomography (OCT) plus fundus photography (FP)/autofluorescence (AF) detection but not by OCT alone. The degenerative areas were associated with AF, which seems to be due to infiltrated macrophages, as observed by OCT and histology. MerTK CR RPE primary cultures phagocytosed less POS in vitro , while in vivo , the circadian rhythm of POS phagocytosis was deregulated. Mitochondrial function and energy production were reduced in freshly dissected RPE/choroid tissues at all ages, thus showing a metabolic impairment not present in macrophages. RPE anomalies were detected by electron microscopy, including phagosomes retained in the apical area and vacuoles. Altogether, this new mouse model displays a novel phenotype that could prove useful to understanding the interplay between RPE and PRs in inflammatory retinal degenerations and highlights new roles for MerTK in the regulation of the energetic metabolism and the maintenance of the immune privilege in the retina.
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Dates and versions

hal-04563541 , version 1 (29-04-2024)

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Julie Enderlin, Quentin Rieu, Salomé Réty, Elora M Vanoni, Solène Roux, et al.. Retinal atrophy, inflammation, phagocytic and metabolic disruptions develop in the MerTK-cleavage-resistant mouse model. Frontiers in Neuroscience, 2024, 18, ⟨10.3389/fnins.2024.1256522⟩. ⟨hal-04563541⟩
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