Neurochemical Research

, Volume 36, Issue 4, pp 574–582 | Cite as

Molecular Responses Transduced by Serial Oxidative Stress in the Retinal Pigment Epithelium: Feedback Control Modeling of Gene Expression

Original Paper


The purpose of this study was to characterize the early molecular responses to quantified levels of serial oxidative stress (OS) in the human retinal pigment epithelium (RPE). Confluent ARPE-19 cells were cultured for 3 days in defined medium to stabilize gene expression. The cells were serially exposed to high levels of OS (500 μM H2O2) with up to 3 distinct stimuli presented 4 h apart. Gene expression was followed for at least 8 h following initiation of each OS. Using real time qPCR, we quantified the expression of immediate early genes from the AP-1 and EGR transcription factor families and other genes involved in regulating the redox status of the cells. Significant and quantitative changes were seen in the expression of five AP-1 transcription factor genes. The peak level of induced transcription from OS varied from two-fold to >64-fold over the first 4 h, depending on the gene and magnitude of OS. Serial responses were characterized and distinct types of quantifiable OS-specific responses were observed. The responses manifested controlled serial increases in expression of these genes in a manner dependent upon the rate of increase in transcription, the relative duration of the transcriptional stimulus, and the characteristic relaxation to the initial steady state. This complexity suggests a mechanism whereby the rate of increase in transcription directs alternative paths to effect downstream gene-specific responses to OS. The molecular mechanisms by which these signals are transduced and controlled in the RPE are speculative. However, the rapidity of the TF response, and the known autoregulation of TF promoters by their gene products suggests that the early control is likely mediated by phosphorylation and activation of existing AP-1 and EGR protein pools within the cell, modulated by the opposing activity of kinase and phosphatase enzymes. Because of the differences in both initial and serial responses to the input stresses, it appears that control theory may provide a useful characterization of the distinctions.


Gene expression Gene regulation AP-1 Transcription factors Oxidative stress Pigment epithelium of eye Retina Controller theory 



These studies were supported in part by a research grant from Alcon Research Inc., Ft. Worth, TX, an unrestricted UTHSC departmental grant from Research to Prevent Blindness, New York, NY, and the Plough Foundation, Memphis, TN. Dr. Lang is an employee of Alcon Research Ltd., Ft. Worth, TX. The authors would like to thank Ms. Weihong Huo for her technical assistance in performing the studies presented in the manuscript, Dr. Yaqin Li and Dr. Christina Winborn for their helpful comments and review of the manuscript, and the UTHSC Hamilton Eye Institute Core Grant for Vision Research, supported by the National Eye Institute (P30 EY013080). Dr. Chaum is an RPB Senior Scientist. Finally, the authors would also like to acknowledge our distinguished colleague, Dr. Dianna Johnson, for her outstanding academic career, scientific achievements, and body of work, to whom this volume of Neurochemical Research is dedicated.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of OphthalmologyUniversity of Tennessee Health Science CenterMemphisUSA
  2. 2.Department of PediatricsUniversity of Tennessee Health Science CenterMemphisUSA
  3. 3.Department of Anatomy and NeurobiologyUniversity of Tennessee Health Science CenterMemphisUSA
  4. 4.Alcon Research LtdFt. WorthUSA
  5. 5.Hamilton Eye InstituteMemphisUSA

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