Purpose: To investigate mechanism(s) by which mutations in the olfactomedin domain of myocilin (MYOC), also known as the trabecular meshwork-induced glucocorticoid response (TIGR) gene, cause autosomal dominant open-angle glaucoma, the structure and properties of wild-type (WT) MYOC protein were examined, when expressed alone or simultaneously with the Q368X or K423E disease-associated polypeptides.
Methods: Myocilin was analyzed in human aqueous humor and human trabecular meshwork (HTM) tissues. COS-7 and immortalized human trabecular meshwork (iHTM) cell lines were transfected with expression vectors encoding WT MYOC, mutated, and/or epitope-tagged cDNAs. MYOC proteins were characterized by double-epitope tagging procedures and/or Western blot analysis.
Results: MYOC polypeptides formed highly similar oligomers in aqueous humor, HTM tissues, transfected COS-7, and iHTM cell lines. These complexes ranged in size from 116 kDa to more than 200 kDa. The smallest complex, approximately 116 kDa, resulted from dimerization between two MYOC monomers. Expression of a 150-kDa complex was strongest in aqueous humor. Cotransfections of the WT construct with either the Q368X or K423E cDNA produced MYOC(WT)/MYOC(mutant) heterodimers and higher molecular weight hetero-oligomeric complexes. WT homo-oligomeric complexes were secreted in the extracellular media of both cell lines whereas the Q368X and K423E mutant/mutant homomultimers and heteromeric WT/mutant oligomers remained sequestered intracellularly.
Conclusions: Formation of heteromeric WT/mutant complexes may provide a critical mechanism by which mutant myocilin polypeptides produce autosomal dominant open-angle glaucoma. The intracellular sequestration of abnormal WT/mutant complexes could lead to the malfunction of MYOC-expressing cells and to POAG potentially involving a dominant negative effect.