Purpose: To sequence and comprehensively analyze human and mouse lacrimal gland transcriptomes as part of the NEIBank project.
Methods: cDNA libraries generated from normal human and mouse lacrimal glands were sequenced and analyzed by PHRED, RepeatMasker, BLAST, and GRIST. Human "lacrimal-preferred genes" and putative gene regulatory elements were respectively identified in UniGene and ConSite, and gene clustering was analyzed by chromosomal mapping. "Hypothetical proteins," identified by keyword search, were verified by genomic alignment and queried in the Conserved Domain database and GEO Profiles.
Results: The top six transcripts in human and mouse differed, revealing a previously unappreciated molecular divergence. The human transcriptome is enriched with transcripts from 29 lacrimal-preferred genes and a content of poorly characterized hypothetical proteins, proportionally greater than in all other tissues. Only 45% of lacrimal preferred, but 71% of hypotheticals, have mouse orthologs. Many of the latter display apparently altered cancer expression in the CGAP SAGE library collection-often in keeping with predicted WD40, protein kinase, Src homology 2 and 3, RhoGEF, and pleckstrin homology domains involved in cell signaling. At the genomic level, lacrimal-expressed genes show some evidence of clustering, particularly on human chromosomes 9 and 12. Binding sites for TFAP2A, FOXC1, and other transcription factors are predicted.
Conclusions: Interspecies divergence cautions against use of mouse models of human dry eye syndromes. Lacrimal preferred and hypothetical proteins, gene clustering, and putative gene regulatory elements together provide new clues for a molecular understanding of lacrimal gland function and mechanisms of coordinated tissue-specific transcriptional regulation.