RNA Sequencing of Lens Capsular Epithelium Implicates Novel Pathways in Pseudoexfoliation Syndrome

Sean Mullany, Henry Marshall, Tiger Zhou, Daniel Thomson, Joshua M. Schmidt, Ayub Qassim, Lachlan S.W. Knight, Georgina Hollitt, Ella C. Berry, Thi Nguyen, Minh Son To, David Dimasi, Abraham Kuot, Joshua Dubowsky, Rhys Fogarty, Michelle Sun, Luke Chehade, Shilpa Kuruvilla, Devaraj Supramaniam, James BreenShiwani Sharma, John Landers, Stewart Lake, Richard A. Mills, Mark M. Hassall, Weng O. Chan, Sonja Klebe, Emmanuelle Souzeau, Owen M. Siggs, Jamie E. Craig

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Purpose: Pseudoexfoliation syndrome (PEX) is a common systemic disease that results in severe and often irreversible vision loss. Despite considerable research effort, PEX remains incompletely understood. This study sought to perform the first RNAseq study in elucidate the pathophysiology of PEX, and contribute a publicly available transcriptomic data resource for future research. Methods: Human ocular lens capsular epithelium samples were collected from 25 patients with PEX and 39 non-PEX controls undergoing cataract surgery. RNA extracted from these specimens was subjected to polyadenylated (mRNA) selection and deep bulk RNA sequencing. Differential expression analysis investigated protein-coding gene transcripts. Exploratory analyses used pathway analysis tools, and curated class- and disease-specific gene sets. Results: Differential expression analysis demonstrated that 2882 genes were differentially expressed according to PEX status. Genes associated with viral gene expression pathways were among the most upregulated, alongside genes encoding ribosomal and mitochondrial respiratory transport chain proteins. Cell adhesion protein transcripts including type 4 collagen subunits were downregulated. Conclusions: This comparative transcriptomic dataset highlights novel and previously recognized pathogenic pathways in PEX and provides the first comprehensive transcriptomic resource, adding an additional layer to build further understanding of PEX pathophysiology.

Original languageEnglish
Article number26
Number of pages17
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022


  • pseudoexfoliation
  • transcriptomics
  • RNAseq


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