1. Neuroscience
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KIT ligand protects against both light-induced and genetic photoreceptor degeneration

  1. Huirong Li
  2. Lili Lian
  3. Bo Liu
  4. Yu Chen
  5. Jinglei Yang
  6. Shuhui Jian
  7. Jiajia Zhou
  8. Ying Xu
  9. Xiaoyin Ma
  10. Jia Qu
  11. Ling Hou  Is a corresponding author
  1. Wenzhou Medical University, China
  2. Jinan University, China
Research Article
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Cite this article as: eLife 2020;9:e51698 doi: 10.7554/eLife.51698

Abstract

Photoreceptor degeneration is a major cause of blindness and a considerable health burden during aging but effective therapeutic or preventive strategies have not so far become readily available. Here we show in mouse models that signaling through the tyrosine kinase receptor KIT protects photoreceptor cells against both light-induced and inherited retinal degeneration. Upon light damage, photoreceptor cells upregulate Kit ligand (KITL) and activate KIT signaling, which in turn induces nuclear accumulation of the transcription factor NRF2 and stimulates the expression of the antioxidant gene Hmox1. Conversely, a viable Kit mutation promotes light-induced photoreceptor damage, which is reversed by experimental expression of Hmox1. Furthermore, overexpression of KITL from a viral AAV8 vector prevents photoreceptor cell death and partially restores retinal function after light damage or in genetic models of human retinitis pigmentosa. Hence, application of KITL may provide a novel therapeutic avenue for prevention or treatment of retinal degenerative diseases.

Article and author information

Author details

  1. Huirong Li

    Wenzhou Medical University, Wenzhou, China
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  2. Lili Lian

    Wenzhou Medical University, Wenzhou, China
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  3. Bo Liu

    Wenzhou Medical University, Wenzhou, China
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  4. Yu Chen

    Wenzhou Medical University, Wenzhou, China
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  5. Jinglei Yang

    Wenzhou Medical University, Wenzhou, China
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  6. Shuhui Jian

    Wenzhou Medical University, Wenzhou, China
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  7. Jiajia Zhou

    Wenzhou Medical University, Wenzhou, China
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  8. Ying Xu

    GHM Institute of CNS Regeneration, Jinan University, Guangzhou, China
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  9. Xiaoyin Ma

    Wenzhou Medical University, Wenzhou, China
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  10. Jia Qu

    Wenzhou Medical University, Wenzhou, China
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  11. Ling Hou

    Wenzhou Medical University, Wenzhou, China
    For correspondence
    lhou@eye.ac.cn
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0003-0705-8099

Funding

National Natural Science Foundation of China (81800838)

  • Huirong Li

National Natural Science Foundation of China (81770946)

  • Ling Hou

The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.

Ethics

Animal experimentation: All animal experiments were carried out in accordance with the approved guidelines of the Wenzhou Medical University Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (Permit Number: WZMCOPT-090316).

Reviewing Editor

  1. Claude Desplan, New York University, United States

Publication history

  1. Received: September 6, 2019
  2. Accepted: April 2, 2020
  3. Accepted Manuscript published: April 3, 2020 (version 1)
  4. Version of Record published: April 20, 2020 (version 2)

Copyright

© 2020, Li et al.

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.

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