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Journal Articles (Review Article) Graefe's Archive for Clinical and Experimental Ophthalmology Year : 2022

Intrinsic differences in rod and cone membrane composition: implications for cone degeneration

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PURPOSE: In many retinal pathological conditions, rod and cone degeneration differs. For example, the early-onset maculopathy Stargardts disease type 1 (STGD1) is typified by loss of cones while rods are often less affected. We wanted to examine whether there exist intrinsic membrane differences between rods and cones that might explain such features. METHODS: Abca4 mRNA and protein levels were quantified in rod- and cone-enriched samples from wild-type and Nrl(-/-) mice retinas; rod- and cone-enriched outer segments (ROS and COS respectively) were prepared from pig retinas, and total lipids were analyzed by flame ionization, chromatography, and tandem mass spectrometry. Immunohistochemical staining of cone-rich rodent Arvicanthis ansorgei retinas was conducted, and ultra-high performance liquid chromatography of lipid species in porcine ROS and COS was performed. RESULTS: Abca4 mRNA and Abca4 protein content was significantly higher (50-300%) in cone compared to rod-enriched samples. ROS and COS displayed dramatic differences in several lipids, including very long chain poly-unsaturated fatty acids (VLC-PUFAs), especially docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, 22:6n-3): ROS 20.6% DHA, COS 3.3% (p < 0.001). VLC-PUFAs (> 50 total carbons) were virtually absent from COS. COS were impoverished (> 6× less) in phosphatidylethanolamine compared to ROS. ELOVL4 ("ELOngation of Very Long chain fatty acids 4") antibody labelled Arvicanthis cones only very weakly compared to rods. Finally, there were large amounts (905 a.u.) of the bisretinoid A2PE in ROS, whereas it was much lower (121 a.u., ~ 7.5-fold less) in COS fractions. In contrast, COS contained fivefold higher amounts of all-trans-retinal dimer (115 a.u. compared to 22 a.u. in rods). CONCLUSIONS: Compared to rods, cones expressed higher levels of Abca4 mRNA and Abca4 protein, were highly impoverished in PUFA (especially DHA) and phosphatidylethanolamine, and contained significant amounts of all-trans-retinal dimer. Based on these and other data, we propose that in contrast to rods, cones are preferentially vulnerable to stress and may die through direct cellular toxicity in pathologies such as STGD1.

Dates and versions

hal-03712635 , version 1 (04-07-2022)



Daniela Verra, Perrine Spinnhirny, Cristina Sandu, Stéphane Grégoire, Niyazi Acar, et al.. Intrinsic differences in rod and cone membrane composition: implications for cone degeneration. Graefe's Archive for Clinical and Experimental Ophthalmology, 2022, pp.022-05684. ⟨10.1007/s00417-022-05684-9⟩. ⟨hal-03712635⟩
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