Mullins Lab Publications
Cells. 2021 Mar 20;10(3):687. doi: 10.3390/cells10030687.
The extracellular matrix (ECM) plays a crucial role in all parts of the eye, from maintaining clarity and hydration of the cornea and vitreous to regulating angiogenesis, intraocular pressure maintenance, and vascular signaling. This review focuses on the interactions of the ECM for homeostasis of normal physiologic functions of the cornea, vitreous, retina, retinal pigment epithelium, Bruch's membrane, and choroid as well as trabecular meshwork, optic nerve, conjunctiva and tenon's layer as it relates to glaucoma. A variety of pathways and key factors related to ECM in the eye are discussed, including but not limited to those related to transforming growth factor-β, vascular endothelial growth factor, basic-fibroblastic growth factor, connective tissue growth factor, matrix metalloproteinases (including MMP-2 and MMP-9, and MMP-14), collagen IV, fibronectin, elastin, canonical signaling, integrins, and endothelial morphogenesis consistent of cellular activation-tubulogenesis and cellular differentiation-stabilization. Alterations contributing to disease states such as wound healing, diabetes-related complications, Fuchs endothelial corneal dystrophy, angiogenesis, fibrosis, age-related macular degeneration, retinal detachment, and posteriorly inserted vitreous base are also reviewed.
Elife. 2021 Feb 25;10:e61313. doi: 10.7554/eLife.61313. Online ahead of print.
The endothelium responds to numerous chemical and mechanical factors in regulating vascular tone, blood pressure and blood flow. The endothelial volume regulatory anion channel (VRAC) has been proposed to be mechano-sensitive and thereby sense fluid flow and hydrostatic pressure to regulate vascular function. Here, we show that the Leucine Rich Repeat Containing Protein 8a, LRRC8A (SWELL1) is required for VRAC in human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs). Endothelial LRRC8A regulates AKT-eNOS signaling under basal, stretch and shear-flow stimulation, forms a GRB2-Cav1-eNOS signaling complex, and is required for endothelial cell alignment to laminar shear flow. Endothelium-restricted Lrrc8a KO mice develop hypertension in response to chronic angiotensin-II infusion and exhibit impaired retinal blood flow with both diffuse and focal blood vessel narrowing in the setting of Type 2 diabetes (T2D). These data demonstrate that LRRC8A regulates AKT-eNOS in endothelium and is required for maintaining vascular function, particularly in the setting of T2D.
Prog Retin Eye Res. 2020 Dec 28:100934. doi: 10.1016/j.preteyeres.2020.100934. Online ahead of print.
Gene expression provides valuable insight into cell function. As such, vision researchers have frequently employed gene expression studies to better understand retinal physiology and disease. With the advent of single-cell RNA sequencing, expression experiments provide an unparalleled resolution of information. Instead of studying aggregated gene expression across all cells in a heterogenous tissue, single-cell technology maps RNA to an individual cell, which facilitates grouping of retinal and choroidal cell types for further study. Single-cell RNA sequencing has been quickly adopted by both basic and translational vision researchers, and single-cell level gene expression has been studied in the visual systems of animal models, retinal organoids, and primary human retina, RPE, and choroid. These experiments have generated detailed atlases of gene expression and identified new retinal cell types. Likewise, single-cell RNA sequencing investigations have characterized how gene expression changes in the setting of many retinal diseases, including how choroidal endothelial cells are altered in age-related macular degeneration. In addition, this technology has allowed vision researcher to discover drivers of retinal development and model rare retinal diseases with induced pluripotent stem cells. In this review, we will overview the growing number of single-cell RNA sequencing studies in the field of vision research. We will summarize experimental considerations for designing single-cell RNA sequencing experiments and highlight important advancements in retinal, RPE, choroidal, and retinal organoid biology driven by this technology. Finally, we generalize these findings to genes involved in retinal degeneration and outline the future of single-cell expression experiments in studying retinal disease.