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Molecular Biology - Ophthalmology

Critical Role of Klf5 in Regulating Gene Expression during Post-Eyelid Opening Maturation of Mouse Corneas
Published: Friday, September 14, 2012
Author: Doreswamy Kenchegowda et al.

by Doreswamy Kenchegowda, Stephen A. K. Harvey, Sudha Swamynathan, Kira L. Lathrop, Shivalingappa K. Swamynathan


Klf5 plays an important role in maturation and maintenance of the mouse ocular surface. Here, we quantify WT and Klf5-conditional null (Klf5CN) corneal gene expression, identify Klf5-target genes and compare them with the previously identified Klf4-target genes to understand the molecular basis for non-redundant functions of Klf4 and Klf5 in the cornea.

Methodology/Principal Findings

Postnatal day-11 (PN11) and PN56 WT and Klf5CN corneal transcriptomes were quantified by microarrays to compare gene expression in maturing WT corneas, identify Klf5-target genes, and compare corneal Klf4- and Klf5-target genes. Whole-mount corneal immunofluorescent staining was employed to examine CD45+ cell influx and neovascularization. Effect of Klf5 on expression of desmosomal components was studied by immunofluorescent staining and transient co-transfection assays. Expression of 714 and 753 genes was increased, and 299 and 210 genes decreased in PN11 and PN56 Klf5CN corneas, respectively, with 366 concordant increases and 72 concordant decreases. PN56 Klf5CN corneas shared 241 increases and 98 decreases with those previously described in Klf4CN corneas. Xenobiotic metabolism related pathways were enriched among genes decreased in Klf5CN corneas. Expression of angiogenesis and immune response-related genes was elevated, consistent with neovascularization and CD45+ cell influx in Klf5CN corneas. Expression of 1574 genes was increased and 1915 genes decreased in WT PN56 compared with PN11 corneas. Expression of ECM-associated genes decreased, while that of solute carrier family members increased in WT PN56 compared with PN11 corneas. Dsg1a, Dsg1b and Dsp were down-regulated in Klf5CN corneas and their corresponding promoter activities were stimulated by Klf5 in transient co-transfection assays.


Differences between PN11 and PN56 corneal Klf5-target genes reveal dynamic changes in functions of Klf5 during corneal maturation. Klf5 contributes to corneal epithelial homeostasis by regulating the expression of desmosomal components. Klf4- and Klf5-target genes are largely distinct, consistent with their non-redundant roles in the mouse cornea.