Affiliation: State Key Laboratory of Ophthalmology, Zhongshan Ophthalmic Center, Sun Yat-Sen University, Guangzhou 510060, People's Republic of China.
The epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) of retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) cells plays a key role in proliferative vitreoretinopathy (PVR) and proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR), which lead to the loss of vision. The Jagged/Notch pathway has been reported to be essential in EMT during embryonic development, fibrotic diseases and cancer metastasis. However, the function of Jagged/Notch signaling in EMT of RPE cells is unknown. Thus, we hypothesized that a crosstalk between Notch and transforming growth factor β2 (TGF-β2) signaling could induce EMT in RPE cells, which subsequently contributes to PVR and PDR. Here, we demonstrate that Jagged-1/Notch pathway is involved in the TGF-β2-mediated EMT of human RPE cells. Blockade of Notch pathway with DAPT (a specific inhibitor of Notch receptor cleavage) and knockdown of Jagged-1 expression inhibited TGF-β2-induced EMT through regulating the expression of Snail, Slug and ZEB1. Besides the canonical Smad signaling pathway, the noncanonical PI3K/Akt and MAPK pathway also contributed to TGF-β2-induced up-regulation of Jagged-1 in RPE cells. Overexpression of Jagged-1 could mimic TGF-β2 induce EMT. Our data suggest that the Jagged-1/Notch signaling pathway plays a critical role in TGF-β2-induced EMT in human RPE cells, and may contribute to the development of PVR and PDR. Inhibition of the Jagged/Notch signaling pathway, therefore, may have therapeutic value in the prevention and treatment of PVR and PDR.