OPA1 expression in the human retina and optic nerve

Exp Eye Res. 2006 Nov;83(5):1171-8. doi: 10.1016/j.exer.2006.06.004. Epub 2006 Jul 18.


Mutations in the optic atrophy type 1 (OPA1) gene give rise to human autosomal dominant optic atrophy. The purpose of this study is to investigate OPA1 protein expression in the human retina and optic nerve. A rabbit polyclonal antiserum was generated using a fusion protein covering amino acids 647 to 808 of the human OPA1 protein as the immunogenic antigen. Western blot and immunofluorescence staining were performed to examine OPA1 expression in the human retina and optic nerve. In human retina, we found that OPA1 expression was clearly present in retinal ganglion cells and photoreceptors. OPA1 immunoreactivity was also present in the nerve fiber layer, inner plexiform layer and outer plexiform layer. However, OPA1 protein was not detected in the choline acetyltransferase-positive, calretinin-positive, and calbindin-positive amacrine cells, nor in the calbindin-positive horizontal cells. In the human optic nerve, expression of OPA1 was present in the axonal tract that was labeled with neurofilament specific antibody. In conclusion, expression of OPA1 gene is present in the mitochondria-rich regions of the retina and optic nerve. This suggests that OPA1 protein might be involved in the functioning of the mitochondria that are present in both inner and outer retinal neurons.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Axons / chemistry
  • Blotting, Western / methods
  • Eye Proteins / analysis*
  • Eye Proteins / genetics
  • Eye Proteins / immunology
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique / methods
  • GTP Phosphohydrolases / analysis*
  • GTP Phosphohydrolases / genetics
  • GTP Phosphohydrolases / immunology
  • Gene Expression / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Optic Disk / chemistry
  • Optic Nerve / chemistry*
  • Photoreceptor Cells, Vertebrate / chemistry
  • Retina / chemistry*
  • Retinal Ganglion Cells / chemistry


  • Eye Proteins
  • GTP Phosphohydrolases
  • OPA1 protein, human