Identification of Retinal Pigment Epithelium-Specific Clones
Turner, Brian C.
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Macular degeneration is a classification of eye diseases that includes many different, specific forms. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is one particular disease form and is one of the most frequently occurring, affecting over 30 percent of the United States population over 75 years of age. AMD consists of two types, geographic atrophy (dry), and choroidal neovascularization (wet), which is exceedingly worse and can lead to blindness. The disease has proven to be highly complex, and the overall causes and pathology of this disease are still unknown. Many risk factors are associated with AMD including smoking and hypertension; however, age is the most common risk factor. Although the specific pathology and causes of AMD are still unknown, it is thought to have significant ties to the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE), a one-ceIl-thick layer located between the retina and choroid tissues. This layer maintains the blood-brain barrier and is imperative to the maintenance of the retina Currently there is relatively little knowledge about the RPE, the genes expressed in its cells, and their expression levels. However, it is hypothesized that gene mutation in RPE cells could be responsible for AMD as well as other macular dystrophies. Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) technology was used to compare gene expression in RPE cells to gene expression in cells of various other human tissues in order to identify genes with specific expression within RPE cells. Three genes were found to show expression in RPE cells, but not in the other human tissues. This data suggests that these three genes could be RPE-specific.