Vesicular glutamate Transporter 3 in age-dependent optic neuropathy

Gustavo C. Munguba, Andrew S. Camp, Miguel Risco, Mary L. Tapia, Sanjoy K. Bhattacharya, Richard K. Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Purpose: To determine retinal vesicular glutamate transporter 3 (VGLUT3) expression alterations in a mouse model of progressive optic neuropathy (glaucoma). Methods: Tissue specimens were obtained from age-matched DBA/2J and control C57BL/6J mice for western blot analysis. Enucleated globes from DBA/2J, C57BL/6J, and BALB/cJ mice were fixed in formalin, paraffin-embedded, and sectioned for VGLUT3 protein localization. Results: western blot analysis of the control retinas revealed the expression of a ~55 kDa immunoreactive VGLUT3 protein that is to be expected in tissues such as retina, brain, liver, heart, and kidney tissue, but not in intestinal or lung tissue. Furthermore, a strong ~130 kDa immunoreactive VGLUT3 isoform that is restricted to the central nervous system (the brain and retinas) was also identified in the controls, but was not detected in the DBA/2J retinas. Immunofluorescence microscopy showed a lack of VGLUT3 expression in the synapses between amacrine and retinal ganglion cells in DBA/ 2J retinas, in contrast to its strong expression in the C57BL/6J and BALB/cJ controls. Conclusions: Our results implicate the dysregulated expression of a central nervous system-specific VGLUT3 isoform as a predisposing factor in the development of optic neuropathy in DBA/2J mice, a spontaneous mouse model of glaucoma. In striking parallel to the visual system defects of glaucomatous DBA/2J mice, the inner ear of VGLUT3 knockout mice displays a progressive loss of inner hair cell to spiral-ganglion neuron synapses. A significant reduction in the number of spiral-ganglion neurons leads to age-associated deafness. Thus, we propose that the absence of this biochemically uncharacterized 130 kDa VGLUT3 isoform in the DBA/2J retina is a predisposing factor in synaptic instability, and a contributing factor in the age-dependent and progressive loss of ganglion cells projecting to the brain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)413-419
Number of pages7
JournalMolecular vision
StatePublished - 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology


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