PURPOSE. In contact with the external environment, the cornea can easily be injured. Although corneal wounds generally heal rapidly, the pain and increased risk of infection associated with a damaged cornea, as well as the impaired healing observed in some individuals, emphasize the need for novel treatments to accelerate corneal healing. We previously demonstrated in epidermal keratinocytes that the glycerol channel aquaporin-3 (AQP3) interacts with phospholipase D2 (PLD2) to produce the signaling phospholipid phosphatidylglycerol (PG), which has been shown to accelerate skin wound healing in vivo. We hypothesized that the same signaling pathway might be operational in corneal epithelial cells. METHODS. We used co-immunoprecipitation, immunohistochemistry, scratch wound healing assays in vitro, and corneal epithelial wound healing assays in vivo to determine the role of the AQP3/PLD2/PG signaling pathway in corneal epithelium. RESULTS. AQP3 was present in human corneas in situ, and AQP3 and PLD2 were co-immunoprecipitated from corneal epithelial cell lysates. The two proteins could also be co-immunoprecipitated from insect cells simultaneously infected with AQP3- and PLD2-expressing baculoviruses, suggesting a likely direct interaction. A particular PG, dioleoylphosphatidylglycerol (DOPG), enhanced scratch wound healing of a corneal epithelial monolayer in vitro. DOPG also accelerated corneal epithelial wound healing in vivo, both in wild-type mice and in a mouse model exhibiting impaired corneal wound healing (AQP3 knockout mice). CONCLUSIONS. These results indicate the importance of the AQP3/PLD2/PG signaling pathway in corneal epithelial cells and suggest the possibility of developing DOPG as a pharmacologic therapy to enhance corneal wound healing in patients.
- Aquaporin 3
- Phospholipase D2
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sensory Systems
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience