The Effects of Nitric Oxide on Choroidal Gene Expression

Author(s): Makenzie B Merkley, Diana Soriano, Kenneth L Jones and Jody A Summers.

Purpose: Nitric oxide (NO) is recognized as an important biological mediator that controls several physiological functions, and evidence is now emerging that this molecule may play a significant role in the postnatal control of ocular growth and myopia development. We therefore sought to understand the role that nitric oxide plays in visually-guided ocular growth in order to gain insight into the underlying mechanisms of this process.

Methods: Choroids were incubated in organ culture in the presence of the NO donor, PAPA- NONOate (1.5 mM). Following RNA extraction, bulk RNA-seq was used to quantify and compare choroidal gene expression in the presence and absence of PAPA-NONOate. We used bioinformatics to identify enriched canonical pathways, predicted diseases and functions, and regulatory effects of NO in the choroid.

Results: Upon treatment of normal chick choroids with the NO donor, PAPA-NONOate, we identified a total of 837 differentially expressed genes (259 upregulated genes, 578 down-regulated genes) compared with untreated controls. Among these, the top five upregulated genes were LSMEM1, STEAP4, HSPB9, and CCL19, and the top five down-regulated genes were CDCA3, SMC2, a novel gene (ENSALGALG00000050836), an uncharacterized gene (LOC107054158), and SPAG5. Bioinformatics predicted that NO treatment will activate pathways involved in cell and organismal death, necrosis, and cardiovascular system development, and inhibit pathways involved in cell proliferation, cell movement, and gene expression.

Conclusions: The findings reported herein may provide insight into possible effects of NO in the choroid during visually regulated eye growth, and help to identify targeted therapies for the treatment of myopia and other ocular diseases.

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