Purpose: To examine a highly abundant novel transcript from human iris.
Methods: Expressed sequence tag (EST) analysis of an adult human iris cDNA library revealed an abundant (>0.7%) transcript for a novel member of the small leucine-rich proteoglycan (SLRP) family. Other 3' ESTs from retina were also detected in dbEST. The structure of the leucine-rich repeat (LRR) domain was investigated by molecular modeling. Antisera were raised against a specific peptide and used in western blots of human and rat eye tissues.
Results: From its prevalence in the eye and its superfamily relationships, this SLRP protein has been given the names oculoglycan or opticin (Optc). Sequence analysis suggests that Optc has a signal peptide and two structural domains, the larger of which is the LRR domain. Modeling of the LRR domain reveals structural variability in the repeat motifs, forming potential interaction sites for binding partners. Antiserum to a specific peptide detected a protein of approximately 48 kDa, in human iris, ciliary body and retina while the major protein detected in rat ocular tissues was 37 kDa in size. This may reflect a species difference in post-translational modification. Radiation hybrid mapping shows that the gene for OPTC is located on chromosome 1q31, close to the inherited eye diseases ARMD1 and AXPC1.
Conclusions: Optc is a newly identified SLRP family member, which appears to have eye-preferred expression. Molecular modeling reveals local deviations from the familiar LRR structure, which are candidates for specific interaction sites. Western blotting with a specific peptide antibody detects Optc in iris, ciliary body and retina in the human eye and suggests that the protein is post-translationally modified. In rat, the antibody detects Optc in several eye tissues and in brain but the protein appears to have undergone much less modification, suggesting that this is not essential for all aspects of function. Considering its eye-preferred expression, the OPTC gene has the potential for involvement in inherited eye disease. Indeed, it maps close to at least two disease loci for which no gene has so far been identified.