Proteomic profiling of human retinal and choroidal endothelial cells reveals molecular heterogeneity related to tissue of origin

David O. Zamora, Michael Riviere, Dongseok Choi, Yuzhen Pan, Stephen R. Planck, James T. Rosenbaum, Larry L. David, Justine R. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


Purpose: The ocular vascular endothelium plays a key role in the development of several leading retinal causes of blindness in Western nations. Choroidal endothelial cells are integral to the subretinal neovascular lesions that characterize the exudative form of late age-related macular degeneration (AMD), and retinal endothelial cells participate in the initiation of diabetic retinopathy and posterior uveitis. Vascular endothelial cells at different sites exhibit considerable molecular diversity. This diversity has implications for understanding the pathogenesis of tissue-specific diseases and for the development of targeted therapies to treat these conditions. Previous work from our group has identified significant differences in the gene transcript profiles of human retinal and choroidal endothelial cells. Because the proteome ultimately determines the behavior of any given cell, however, it is critical to determine whether molecular differences exist at the level of protein expression. Methods: Retinal and choroidal endothelial cells were separately isolated from five sets of human eyes by enzymatic digestion with type II collagenase followed by anti-CD31 antibody-conjugated magnetic bead separation. Cells were washed to remove serum peptides in the culture medium, and lysed by sonication in buffer containing 2% sodium dodecyl sulfate. Protein was then precipitated with acetone. Retinal and choroidal endothelial samples from each donor were labeled with Cy3 and Cy5, respectively, mixed with a Cy2-labeled pooled protein sample to facilitate spot matching across gels, and separated by two-dimensional difference gel electrophoresis (2D-DIGE). Following a global normalization, differentially abundant protein spots that were visible in at least four of five donor gels were detected by the significance analysis of microarrays method, with false discovery rate set at 5%. Corresponding spots were excised from additional DIGE-labeled or Coomassie-stained 2D electrophoretic gels. Protein identification was performed by liquid chromatography and tandem mass spectrometry. Results: Of 123 protein spots detected by 2D-DIGE that qualified for statistical analysis, we found 31 spots that demonstrated a significant difference in abundance between retinal endothelial samples versus choroidal endothelial samples. For 17 proteins, over 50% of the spectral counts could be matched to a single protein in the digested spot. Eleven proteins were more abundant in retinal endothelial cells (i.e., inorganic pyrophosphatase, protein disulfide isomerase A3, calreticulin, peroxiredoxin-4, protein disulfide isomerase, serpin B9, F-actin capping protein subunit β, coactosin-like protein, vimentin, cathepsin B, and a high molecular weight form of annexin A3). Six proteins were more abundant in choroidal endothelial cells (i.e., glutathione peroxidase 1, ubiquitin carboxyl-terminal hydrolase isozyme L1 (UCH-L1), heat-shock protein beta-1, superoxide dismutase (Cu-Zn), nucleoside diphosphate kinase A, and a low molecular weight form of annexin 3). Conclusions: Our data indicate that the proteomes of retinal and choroidal vascular endothelial cells are different. Several differentially expressed proteins are implicated in the regulation of angiogenesis; these include cathepsin B and UCH-L1, proteins with transcripts, that were also differently expressed according to microarray. Our observations further suggest that angiogenesis within the retina, a component of severe diabetic retinopathy and posterior uveitis, may be controlled by different mechanisms to those regulating choroidal neovascularization, as occur in exudative AMD. Future studies to establish the role of these angiogenic proteins in disease may suggest potential new targets for tissue-specific therapies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2058-2065
Number of pages8
JournalMolecular vision
StatePublished - Oct 30 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology


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