Transcription factor TFAP2B up-regulates human corneal endothelial cell-specific genes during corneal development and maintenance

J Biol Chem. 2019 Feb 15;294(7):2460-2469. doi: 10.1074/jbc.RA118.005527. Epub 2018 Dec 14.


The corneal endothelium, which originates from the neural crest via the periocular mesenchyme (PM), is crucial for maintaining corneal transparency. The development of corneal endothelial cells (CECs) from the neural crest is accompanied by the expression of several transcription factors, but the contribution of some of these transcriptional regulators to CEC development is incompletely understood. Here, we focused on activating enhancer-binding protein 2 (TFAP2, AP-2), a neural crest-expressed transcription factor. Using semiquantitative/quantitative RT-PCR and reporter gene and biochemical assays, we found that, within the AP-2 family, the TFAP2B gene is the only one expressed in human CECs in vivo and that its expression is strongly localized to the peripheral region of the corneal endothelium. Furthermore, the TFAP2B protein was expressed both in vivo and in cultured CECs. During mouse development, TFAP2B expression began in the PM at embryonic day 11.5 and then in CECs during adulthood. siRNA-mediated knockdown of TFAP2B in CECs decreased the expression of the corneal endothelium-specific proteins type VIII collagen α2 (COL8A2) and zona pellucida glycoprotein 4 (ZP4) and suppressed cell proliferation. Of note, we also found that TFAP2B binds to the promoter of the COL8A2 and ZP4 genes. Furthermore, CECs that highly expressed ZP4 also highly expressed both TFAP2B and COL8A2 and showed high cell proliferation. These findings suggest that TFAP2B transcriptionally regulates CEC-specific genes and therefore may be an important transcriptional regulator of corneal endothelial development and homeostasis.

Keywords: COL8A2; TFAP2B; ZP4; cell surface protein; collagen; cornea; corneal endothelial cells; development; differentiation; eye; eye development; gene regulation; molecular cell biology; neural crest; regenerative medicine; transcriptional regulation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Proliferation*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cornea / cytology
  • Cornea / embryology*
  • Endothelial Cells / cytology
  • Endothelial Cells / metabolism*
  • Eye Proteins / biosynthesis*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental*
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Organ Specificity
  • Transcription Factor AP-2 / biosynthesis*
  • Up-Regulation*


  • Eye Proteins
  • TFAP2B protein, human
  • Tfap2b protein, mouse
  • Transcription Factor AP-2