Studies of the effects of glucocorticoid (GC) and oxidative stress stimuli in differentiated cultures of human trabecular meshwork (HTM) cells have provided the rationale for our studies of a major new gene termed TIGR (trabecular meshwork inducible GC response). The TIGR clone was isolated by differential library screening using selection criteria based on the induction pattern of a new protein/glycoprotein found in HTM cultures after prolonged but not brief exposure to GCs. This GC induction pattern matched the time course and dose response required for intraocular pressure elevation in patients receiving corticosteroids. The very large, progressive induction of TIGR combined with specific structural features of its cDNA suggested that TIGR should be considered a candidate gene for outflow obstruction in glaucoma. Among the properties of TIGR cDNA were a signal sequence for secretion, several structural features for interactions with glycosaminoglycans and other glycoproteins and putative sites for cell surface interactions. In addition, the leucine zippers in the structure were related to TIGR-TIGR oligomerization that was shown to occur with native and recombinant TIGR protein. The verification that TIGR was a major stress response protein in HTM cells following hydrogen peroxide (or phorbol esters) exposure provided a potential link between GC and oxidative mechanisms thought to be involved in glaucoma pathogenesis. Pharmacological evaluation showed that basic fibroblast growth factory and transforming growth factor beta decreased the GC induction of TIGR, and certain nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs protected against both GC- and oxidation-induced stress responses in HTM cells. Our recent studies of TIGR's genomic structure have shown motifs in the promoter region that suggest a basis by which multiple hormonal/environmental stimuli can regulate TIGR production and by which putative genetic alterations could lead to an overexpression of the protein. Further application of cell biology/biochemistry, molecular biology, genetic and histological approaches will be helpful in understanding the role of TIGR in different glaucoma syndromes.