Insights from Genetic Model Systems of Retinal Degeneration: Role of Epsins in Retinal Angiogenesis and VEGFR2 Signaling

Yunzhou Dong, Xue Cai, Yong Wu, Yanjun Liu, Lin Deng, Hong Chen

Vascular Biology Program, Boston Children’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA. Department of Ophthalmology, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, OK 73104, USA. Department of Internal Medicine, Charles R. Drew University of Medicine & Sciences, University of California School of Medicine, Los Angeles, CA 90059, USA. Department of Biological Chemistry & Molecular Pharmacology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA

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The retina is a light sensitive tissue that contains specialized photoreceptor cells called rods and cones which process visual signals.  These signals are relayed to the brain through interneurons and the fibers of the optic nerve.  The retina is susceptible to a variety of degenerative diseases, including age-related macular degeneration (AMD), diabetic retinopathy (DR), retinitis pigmentosa (RP) and other inherited retinal degenerations. In order to reveal the mechanism underlying these diseases and to find methods for the pre-vention/treatment of retinal degeneration, animal models have been generated to mimic human eye diseases. In this paper, several well-characterized and commonly used animal models are reviewed.  Of particular interest are the contributions of these models to our understanding of the mechanisms of retinal degeneration and thereby providing novel treatment options including gene therapy, stem cell therapy, nano-medicine, and CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing. Role of newly-identified adaptor protein epsins from our laboratory is discussed in retinal angiogenesis and VEGFR2 signaling. Journal of Nature and Science (JNSCI), 3(1):e281, 2017

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