Gene expression in tree shrew choroid was examined during the development of minus-lens induced myopia (LIM, a GO condition), after completion of minus-lens compensation (a STAY condition), and early in recovery (REC) from induced myopia (a STOP condition). Five groups of tree shrews (n = 7 per group) were used. Starting 24 days after normal eye-opening (days of visual experience [DVE]), one minus-lens group wore a monocular -5 D lens for 2 days (LIM-2), another minus-lens group achieved stable lens compensation while wearing a monocular -5 D lens for 11 days (LIM-11); a recovery group also wore a -5 D lens for 11 days and then received 2 days of recovery starting at 35 DVE (REC-2). Two age-matched normal groups were examined at 26 DVE and 37 DVE. Quantitative PCR was used to measure the relative differences in mRNA levels in the choroid for 77 candidate genes that were selected based on previous studies or because a whole-transcriptome analysis suggested their expression would change during myopia development or recovery. Small myopic changes were observed in the treated eyes of the LIM-2 group (-1.0 ± 0.2 D; mean ± SEM) indicating eyes were early in the process of developing LIM. The LIM-11 group exhibited complete refractive compensation (-5.1 ± 0.2 D) that was stable for five days. The REC-2 group recovered by 1.3 ± 0.3 D from full refractive compensation. Sixty genes showed significant mRNA expression differences during normal development, LIM, or REC conditions. In LIM-2 choroid (GO), 18 genes were significantly down-regulated in the treated eyes relative to the fellow control eyes and 10 genes were significantly up-regulated. In LIM-11 choroid (STAY), 10 genes were significantly down-regulated and 12 genes were significantly up-regulated. Expression patterns in GO and STAY were similar, but not identical. All genes that showed differential expression in GO and STAY were regulated in the same direction in both conditions. In REC-2 choroid (STOP), 4 genes were significantly down-regulated and 18 genes were significantly up-regulated. Thirteen genes showed bi-directional regulation in GO vs. STOP. The pattern of differential gene expression in STOP was very different from that in GO or in STAY. Significant regulation was observed in genes involved in signaling as well as extracellular matrix turnover. These data support an active role for the choroid in the signaling cascade from retina to sclera. Distinctly different treated eye vs. control eye mRNA signatures are present in the choroid in the GO, STAY, and STOP conditions. The STAY signature, present after full compensation has occurred and the GO visual stimulus is no longer present, may participate in maintaining an elongated globe. The 13 genes with bi-directional expression differences in GO and STOP responded in a sign of defocus-dependent manner. Taken together, these data further suggest that a network of choroidal gene expression changes generate the signal that alters scleral fibroblast gene expression and axial elongation rate.
Keywords: animal models; axial elongation; choroid; emmetropization; gene expression; myopia; refractive error.
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