Exp Eye Res. 2023 May 9:109499. doi: 10.1016/j.exer.2023.109499. Online ahead of print.
Fuchs Endothelial Corneal Dystrophy (FECD), a late-onset oxidative stress disorder, is the most common cause of corneal endothelial degeneration and is genetically associated with CTG repeat expansion in TCF4. We previously reported accumulation of nuclear (nDNA) and mitochondrial (mtDNA) damage in FECD. Specifically, mitochondrial DNA damage was a prominent finding in development of disease in the ultraviolet-A (UVA) induced FECD mouse model. We hypothesize that an aberrant DNA repair may contribute to the increased DNA damage seen in FECD. We analyzed differential expression profiles of 84 DNA repair genes by real-time PCR arrays using Human DNA Repair RT-Profiler plates using cDNA extracted from Descemet’s membrane-corneal endothelium (DM-CE) obtained from FECD patients with expanded (>40) or non-expanded (<40) intronic CTG repeats in Transcription Factor 4 (TCF4) gene and from age-matched normal donors. Change in mRNA expression of <0.5- or >2.0-fold in FECD relative to normal was set as cutoff for down- or upregulation. Downregulated mitochondrial genes were further validated using the UVA-based mouse model of FECD. FECD specimens exhibited downregulation of 9 genes and upregulation of 8 genes belonging to the four major DNA repair pathways, namely, base excision repair (BER), nucleotide excision repair (NER), mismatch repair (MMR), and double strand break (DSB) repair, compared to normal donors. MMR gene MSH2 and BER gene POLB were preferentially upregulated in expanded FECD. BER genes LIG3 and NEIL2, DSB repair genes PARP3 and TOP3A, NER gene XPC, and unclassified pathway gene TREX1, were downregulated in both expanded and non-expanded FECD. MtDNA repair genes, Lig3, Neil2, and Top3a, were also downregulated in the UVA-based mouse model of FECD. Our findings identify impaired DNA repair pathways that may play an important role in DNA damage due to oxidative stress as well as genetic predisposition noted in FECD.