Developmental expression profile of the optic atrophy gene product: OPA1 is not localized exclusively in the mammalian retinal ganglion cell layer

Saima Aijaz, Lynda Erskine, Glen Jeffery, Shomi S Bhattacharya, Marcela Votruba

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Citations (Scopus)


PURPOSE: Autosomal dominant optic atrophy (ADOA) is characterized by primary degeneration of retinal ganglion cells and atrophy of the optic nerve. The OPA1 gene encodes a 960-amino-acid protein. In the current study the temporal and spatial localization of OPA1 were examined in developing and adult murine ocular tissues and the adult human eye. Because the Bst/+ mouse has been postulated as a model of ADOA, the mOPA1 expression in the Bst/+ retina was also examined. METHODS: A polyclonal antibody generated against a C-terminal peptide of OPA1 was used to assess by immunohistochemistry the expression of mOPA1 in the wild-type embryonic and postnatal mouse ocular tissues and the Bst/+ retina. Western blot analyses of total proteins from a panel of adult human tissues were used to examine the expression of human OPA1, and spatial localization was assessed by immunohistochemistry. RESULTS: The ocular expression of mOPA1 begins at E15 in the inner retina in a location corresponding to that of the subsequently developing ganglion cell layer (GCL) and peaks between postnatal day (P)0 and P1 in the retina and the optic nerve. There is a sharp decline in mOPA1 expression after P2, but it is expressed at a basal level until at least P12 in the GCL, inner plexiform layer (IPL), and inner nuclear layer (INL) of the retina as well as in the optic nerve. In the adult Bst/+ retina, mOPA1 is strongly expressed in the GCL and IPL and weakly in the INL. In the adult human eye, OPA1 is expressed in the GCL, IPL, INL, and outer plexiform layer (OPL) of the retina and in the optic nerve, where it is observed only in the myelinated region. CONCLUSIONS: OPA1 is not restricted to the GCL of the mammalian retina, and its expression extends into the IPL, INL, and OPL. OPA1 is distinctly expressed in the myelinated region beyond the lamina cribrosa in the human optic nerve, whereas its expression is weaker in the mouse optic nerve. In the Bst/+ mouse retina, despite the structural defects, mOPA1 expression is comparable to that observed in the wild-type adult mouse retina. These observations suggest a wider role for OPA1 than previously anticipated.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1667-1673
Number of pages7
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2004


  • Aged
  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Electrophoresis, Polyacrylamide Gel
  • Female
  • GTP Phosphohydrolases
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Humans
  • Immunoblotting
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Mutant Strains
  • Optic Atrophy, Autosomal Dominant
  • Optic Nerve
  • Pregnancy
  • Retina
  • Retinal Ganglion Cells


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