Purpose: To evaluate the effect of chemical chaperones on the trafficking of secretion-incompetent primary open-angle glaucoma-associated mutant myocilin and the possibility to rescue cells coexpressing mutant and wild-type myocilin from endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress and apoptosis.
Methods: CHO-K1, HEK293 and human trabecular meshwork cells were transfected to express wild-type or mutant (C245Y, G364V, P370L, Y437H) myocilin-green fluorescent protein fusion protein and were treated or not with various chemical chaperones (glycerol, dimethylsulfoxide, or sodium 4-phenylbutyrate) for different time periods. The secretion, Triton X-100 solubility, and intracellular distribution of wild-type and mutant myocilin were analyzed by immunoprecipitation, Western blotting, and confocal double immunofluorescence. The effect of sodium 4-phenylbutyrate on ER stress proteins and apoptosis was examined in cells coexpressing mutant and wild-type myocilin.
Results: Treatment with sodium 4-phenylbutyrate, but not with glycerol or dimethylsulfoxide, reduced the amount of detergent-insoluble myocilin aggregates, diminished myocilin interaction with calreticulin, and restored the secretion of mutant myocilin. Heteromeric complexes formed by mutant and wild-type myocilin induced the ER stress-associated phosphorylated form of ER-localized eukaryotic initiation factor (eIF)-2alpha kinase and the active form of caspase 3, which resulted in an increased rate of apoptosis. Sodium 4-phenylbutyrate treatment of cells coexpressing mutant and wild-type myocilin relieved ER stress and significantly reduced the rate of apoptosis.
Conclusions: These findings indicate that sodium 4-phenylbutyrate protects cells from the deleterious effects of ER-retained aggregated mutant myocilin. These data point to the possibility of a chemical chaperone treatment for myocilin-caused primary open-angle glaucoma.