Conditionally Immortal Slc4a11-/- Mouse Corneal Endothelial Cell Line Recapitulates Disrupted Glutaminolysis Seen in Slc4a11-/- Mouse Model

Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2017 Jul 1;58(9):3723-3731. doi: 10.1167/iovs.17-21781.


Purpose: To establish conditionally immortal mouse corneal endothelial cell lines with genetically matched Slc4a11+/+ and Slc4a11-/- mice as a model for investigating pathology and therapies for SLC4A11 associated congenital hereditary endothelial dystrophy (CHED) and Fuchs' endothelial corneal dystrophy.

Methods: We intercrossed H-2Kb-tsA58 mice (Immortomouse) expressing an IFN-γ dependent and temperature-sensitive mutant of the SV40 large T antigen (tsTAg) with Slc4a11+/+ and Slc4a11-/- C57BL/6 mice. The growth characteristics of the cell lines was assessed by doubling time. Ion transport activities (Na+/H+ exchange, bicarbonate, lactate, and Slc4a11 ammonia transport) were analyzed by intracellular pH measurement. The metabolic status of the cell lines was assessed by analyzing TCA cycle intermediates via gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GC-MS).

Results: The immortalized Slc4a11+/+ and Slc4a11-/- mouse corneal endothelial cells (MCECs) remained proliferative through passage 49 and maintained similar active ion transport activity. As expected, proliferation was temperature sensitive and IFN-γ dependent. Slc4a11-/- MCECs exhibited decreased proliferative capacity, reduced NH3:H+ transport, altered expression of glutaminolysis enzymes similar to the Slc4a11-/- mouse, and reduced proportion of TCA cycle intermediates derived from glutamine with compensatory increases in glucose flux compared with Slc4a11+/+ MCECs.

Conclusions: This is the first report of the immortalization of MCECs. Ion transport of the immortalized endothelial cells remains active, except for NH3:H+ transporter activity in Slc4a11-/- MCECs. Furthermore, Slc4a11-/- MCECs recapitulate the glutaminolysis defects observed in Slc4a11-/- mouse corneal endothelium, providing an excellent tool to study the pathogenesis of SLC4A11 mutations associated with corneal endothelial dystrophies and to screen potential therapeutic agents.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anion Transport Proteins / genetics*
  • Anion Transport Proteins / metabolism
  • Antigens, Polyomavirus Transforming / genetics
  • Blotting, Western
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Proliferation / physiology
  • Corneal Dystrophies, Hereditary / genetics
  • Corneal Dystrophies, Hereditary / metabolism*
  • Corneal Dystrophies, Hereditary / pathology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Endothelium, Corneal / metabolism*
  • Endothelium, Corneal / pathology
  • Female
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
  • Glutamine / metabolism*
  • Ion Transport / physiology
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Symporters / genetics*


  • Anion Transport Proteins
  • Antigens, Polyomavirus Transforming
  • Slc4a11 protein, mouse
  • Symporters
  • Glutamine