Purpose: The primary goal of this study was to characterize the Rac GTPase associated, NADPH oxidase-mediated Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS)-generating system in the lens tissue.
Methods: NADPH oxidase activity in lens tissue was determined by quantifying superoxide-induced lucigenin photoemission. Immunological and PCR/RT-PCR techniques were utilized to determine expression of different components of the NADPH oxidase system in lens tissue. Growth factor stimulated ROS production was determined quantitatively in human lens epithelial cells using dichlorofluorescein diacetate.
Results: Lens homogenates from different species showed generation of superoxide in a lucigenin-enhanced chemiluminescence assay in the presence of NADPH. This activity was found to be lens protein concentration dependent, heat sensitive, and inhibitable by superoxide dismutase and the flavoprotein inhibitor, diphenyleneiodonium (DPI). The distribution of superoxide generating activity in lens was confined predominantly to the lens epithelium, with very low levels in cortex and none in the nucleus. Immunological assays have demonstrated the presence of p67phox and p47phox in lens tissue, while PCR and RT-PCR reactions amplified DNA products corresponding to the p67phox, p40phox, p22phox, gp91phox, and Rac1 components of the NADPH oxidase complex from human and mouse lens cDNA libraries. Serum starved human lens epithelial cells stimulated with different growth factors including EGF, b-FGF, PDGF, TGF-beta, and LPA demonstrated increased production of ROS, a response which was blocked by inhibitors of NADPH oxidase, such as DPI and the antioxidant-N-acetyl cysteine (NAC). RT-PCR analysis of human lens RNA confirmed readily detectable levels of expression of low molecular weight protein tyrosine phosphatase (LMW-PTP), which is a well-characterized target of redox signaling pathway(s).
Conclusions: These data demonstrate the presence of a functional nonphagocytic NADPH oxidase system in lens that is predominantly localized to the lens epithelium. Several growth factors appear to stimulate the activity of lens NADPH oxidase, resulting in increased production of ROS in lens epithelial cells, indicating that redox signaling may have an important role in growth factor effects on lens growth and development.