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RNA-Seq and CyTOF® immuno-profiling of regenerating lacrimal glands identifies a novel subset of cells expressing muscle-related proteins

Hawley, D., Ding, J., Thotakura, S. et al.

The purpose of the present studies was to use CyTOF and RNA-Seq technologies to identify cells and genes involved in lacrimal gland repair that could be targeted to treat diseases of lacrimal gland dysfunction. Lacrimal glands of female BALB/c mice were experimentally injured by intra-glandular injection of interleukin 1 alpha (IL-1α). The lacrimal glands were harvested at various time points following injury (1 to 14 days) and used to either prepare single cell suspensions for CyTOF immuno-phenotyping analyses or to extract RNA for gene expression studies using RNA-Seq. CyTOF immuno-phenotyping identified monocytes and neutrophils as the major infiltrating populations 1 and 2 days post injury. Clustering of significantly differentially expressed genes identified 13 distinct molecular signatures: 3 associated with immune/inflammatory processes included genes up-regulated at days 1-2 and 3 associated with reparative processes with genes up-regulated primarily between days 4 and 5. Finally, clustering identified 65 genes which were specifically up-regulated 2 days post injury which was enriched for muscle specific genes. The expression of select muscle-related proteins was confirmed by immunohistochemistry which identified a subset of cells expressing these proteins. Double staining experiments showed that these cells are distinct from the myoepithelial cells. We conclude that experimentally induced injury to the lacrimal gland leads to massive infiltration by neutrophils and monocytes which resolved after 3 days. RNA-Seq and immunohistochemistry identified a group of cells, other than myoepithelial cells, that express muscle-related proteins that could play an important role in lacrimal gland repair.

Citation

Hawley, D., Ding, J., Thotakura, S. et al. "RNA-Seq and CyTOF® immuno-profiling of regenerating lacrimal glands identifies a novel subset of cells expressing muscle-related proteins" PLoS One (2017): e0179385