Cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor 2B mediates excitotoxicity-induced death of retinal ganglion cells

Hiroshi Tawarayama, Qiwei Feng, Namie Murayama, Noriyuki Suzuki, Toru Nakazawa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


PURPOSE. Glutamate excitotoxicity seems to contribute to retinal ganglion cell (RGC) death in various eye diseases, but the underlying molecular mechanisms are not fully understood. We studied the roles of cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitors Cdkn2a and Cdkn2b, known as cellular stress-related senescence markers, in N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA)-induced RGC death. METHODS. Gene expression was analyzed using quantitative reverse transcription (qRT)-PCR, in situ hybridization, and immunochemistry. Cdkn2a and Cdkn2b gain- and loss-of-function experiments were performed using the adeno-associated virus type 2 (AAV2)-mediated gene delivery system. AAV2-CRISPR-Cas9–mediated knockout of Cdkn2a or Cdkn2b was validated using cultured cells by T7 endonuclease I assay and Western blot analysis. The effects of altered expression of Cdkn2a and Cdkn2b on NMDA-induced RGC death were evaluated by quantification of RNA binding protein with multiple splicing (Rbpms)-immunoreactive RGCs. RESULTS. Intravitreal NMDA injection resulted in upregulation of Cdkn2a and Cdkn2b expression in RGCs of the mouse retina. AAV2-mediated overexpression of Cdkn2b led to increased expression of Cdkn2a in RGCs, but not vice versa. Overexpression of Cdkn2b, but not Cdkn2a, resulted in a further reduction in RGC viability in NMDA-injected retinas. However, excessive levels of Cdkn2a or Cdkn2b had no effect on RGC viability in healthy mice. AAV2-CRISPR-Cas9–mediated knockout of either Cdkn2a or Cdkn2b attenuated NMDA-induced RGC death. CONCLUSIONS. Cdkn2a and Cdkn2b have pivotal roles in the regulation of excitotoxic RGC degeneration under NMDA-induced pathologic conditions. Our findings imply that Cdkn2a and Cdkn2b are novel therapeutic targets for ocular diseases displaying excitotoxicity-induced neuronal degeneration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4479-4488
Number of pages10
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Oct 1


  • Cdkn2a
  • Cdkn2b
  • Neuroexcitotoxicity
  • NMDA model
  • RGC death


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