PURPOSE. Despite considerable efforts, the molecular and cellular events in lacrimal gland tissues initiating inflammatory responses leading to keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS), autoimmunity, and Sjögren's syndrome (SjS) have yet to be defined. To determine whether altered glandular homeostasis occurs before the onset of autoimmunity, a temporal transcriptome study was carried out in an animal model of primary SjS. METHODS. Using oligonucleotide microarrays, gene expression profiles were generated for lacrimal glands of C57BL/6.NODAec1Aec2 mice 4 to 20 weeks of age. Pairwise analyses identified genes differentially expressed, relative to their 4-week expression, during the development of SjS-like disease. Statistical analyses defined differentially and coordinately expressed gene sets. The PANTHER (Protein ANalysis THrough Evolutionary Relationships) classification system was used to define annotated biological processes or functions. RESULTS. Temporal transcript expression profiles of C57BL/ 6.NOD-Aec1Aec2 lacrimal glands before, or concomitant with, the first appearance of inflammatory cells revealed a highly restricted subset of differentially expressed genes encoding interactive extracellular matrix proteins, fibronectin, integrins, and syndecans. In contrast, genes encoding interepithelial junctional complex proteins defined alterations in tight junctions (TJ), adherens, desmosomes, and gap junctions, suggesting perturbations in the permeability of the paracellular spaces between epithelial barriers. Correlating with this were gene sets defining focal adhesion (FA) maturation and Ras/Raf-Mek/ Erk signal transduction. Immunohistochemically, FAs were associated with infiltrating leukocytes and not with lacrimal epithelial cells. CONCLUSIONS. For the first time, FA maturations are implicated as initial biomarkers of impending autoimmunity in lacrimal glands of SjS-prone mice. Changes in TJ complex genes support an increased movement of cells through paracellular spaces.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sensory Systems
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience