Retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) degeneration underpins diseases triggered by disparate genetic lesions, noxious insults, or both. The pleiotropic Ranbp2 controls the expression of intrinsic and extrinsic pathological stressors impinging on cellular viability. However, the physiological targets and mechanisms controlled by Ranbp2 in tissue homeostasis, such as RPE, are ill defined. We show that mice, RPE-cre::Ranbp2(-/-), with selective Ranbp2 ablation in RPE develop pigmentary changes, syncytia, hypoplasia, age-dependent centrifugal and non-apoptotic degeneration of the RPE, and secondary leakage of choriocapillaris. These manifestations are accompanied by the development of F-actin clouds, metalloproteinase-11 activation, deregulation of expression or subcellular localization of critical RPE proteins, atrophic cell extrusions into the subretinal space, and compensatory proliferation of peripheral RPE. To gain mechanistic insights into what Ranbp2 activities are vital to the RPE, we performed genetic complementation analyses of transgenic lines of bacterial artificial chromosomes of Ranbp2 harboring loss of function of selective Ranbp2 domains expressed in a Ranbp2(-/-) background. Among the transgenic lines produced, only Tg(RBD2/3*-HA)::RPE-cre::Ranbp2(-/-)-expressing mutations, which selectively impair binding of RBD2/3 (Ran-binding domains 2 and 3) of Ranbp2 to Ran-GTP, recapitulate RPE degeneration, as observed with RPE-cre::Ranbp2(-/-). By contrast, Tg(RBD2/3*-HA) expression rescues the degeneration of cone photoreceptors lacking Ranbp2. The RPE of RPE-cre::Ranbp2(-/-) and Tg(RBD2/3*-HA)::RPE-cre::Ranbp2(-/-) share proteostatic deregulation of Ran GTPase, serotransferrin, and γ-tubulin and suppression of light-evoked electrophysiological responses. These studies unravel selective roles of Ranbp2 and its RBD2 and RBD3 in RPE survival and functions. We posit that the control of Ran GTPase by Ranbp2 emerges as a novel therapeutic target in diseases promoting RPE degeneration.
Keywords: Cell Biology; Cell Death; Cellular Regulation; Electrophysiology; Epithelial Cell; Gene Knockout; Microscopic Imaging; Proteostasis; RNA Regulation; Transgenic Mice.
© 2014 by The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Inc.