The trabecular meshwork (TM) is a specialized tissue located at the chamber angle of the eye next to the cornea. This tissue is believed to be responsible for regulation of the aqueous humor outflow and control of the intraocular pressure (IOP). Alterations in functions of the TM may lead to IOP elevation and development of glaucoma, a major cause of blindness. The myocilin gene has recently been directly linked to open-angle glaucomas. The gene product was originally identified as a protein inducible in TM cells by treatment with glucocorticoids such as dexamethasone (DEX) and termed TIGR (TM inducible-glucocorticoid response). The exact nature and function of the myocilin protein so far still remain elusive. In this study, myocilin was localized to the perinuclear region of both DEX-treated and control TM cells. Its distribution overlapped considerably with that of mitochondria. Subcellular fractionation and Western blot analyses suggested a rather extensive association of myocilin with mitochondria. The DEX-treated TM cells were found to undergo apoptosis, when exposed to anti-Fas antibody, to a significantly higher degree than the untreated control cells. It appears that the TM cell integrity remains intact after DEX treatment. However, the induced myocilin or myocilin-mitochondria association seems to render the cells more susceptible to a second stress or challenge. This vulnerability may be the basis that ultimately leads to pathological consequences.
Copyright 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.