Phagocytosis is a key function in various cells throughout the body. A deficiency in photoreceptor outer segment (POS) phagocytosis by the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) causes vision loss in inherited retinal diseases and possibly age-related macular degeneration. To date, there are no effective therapies available aiming at recovering the lost phagocytosis function. Here, we developed a high-throughput screening assay based on RPE derived from human embryonic stem cells (hRPE) to reveal enhancers of POS phagocytosis. One of the hits, ramoplanin (RM), reproducibly enhanced POS phagocytosis and ensheathment in hRPE, and enhanced the expression of proteins known to regulate membrane dynamics and ensheathment in other cell systems. Additionally, RM rescued POS internalization defect in Mer receptor tyrosine kinase (MERTK) mutant hRPE, derived from retinitis pigmentosa patient induced pluripotent stem cells. Our platform, including a primary phenotypic screening phagocytosis assay together with orthogonal assays, establishes a basis for RPE-based therapy discovery aiming at a broad patient spectrum.
|Number of pages
|Stem cell reports
|Published - 8 Dec 2020
DFG Classification of Subject Areas according to Review Boards
- MERTK, phagocytosis, POS, Ramoplanin, RP38, RPE