Transformation of the Transcriptomic Profile of Mouse Periocular Mesenchyme During Formation of the Embryonic Cornea
Ma, Justin; Lwigale, Peter
Purpose: Defects in neural crest development are a major contributing factor in corneal dysgenesis, but little is known about the genetic landscape during corneal development. The purpose of this study was to provide a detailed transcriptome profile and evaluate changes in gene expression during mouse corneal development. Methods: RNA sequencing was used to uncover the transcriptomic profile of periocular mesenchyme (pNC) isolated at embryonic day (E) 10.5 and corneas isolated at E14.5 and E16.5. The spatiotemporal expression of several differentially expressed genes was validated by in situ hybridization. Results: Analysis of the whole-transcriptome profile between pNC and embryonic corneas identified 3815 unique differentially expressed genes. Pathway analysis revealed an enrichment of differentially expressed genes involved in signal transduction (retinoic acid, transforming growth factor-β, and Wnt pathways) and transcriptional regulation. Conclusions: Our analyses, for the first time, identify a large number of differentially expressed genes during progressive stages of mouse corneal development. Our data provide a comprehensive transcriptomic profile of the developing cornea. Combined, these data serve as a valuable resource for the identification of novel regulatory networks crucial for the advancement of studies in congenital defects, stem cell therapy, bioengineering, and adult corneal diseases.