Elevation of intraocular pressure (IOP) due to trabecular meshwork (TM) damage is associated with Primary Open Angle Glaucoma (POAG). Myocilin mutations resulting in elevated IOP are the most common genetic cause of POAG. We have previously shown that mutant myocilin accumulates in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and induces chronic ER stress, leading to TM damage and IOP elevation. However, it is not understood how chronic ER stress leads to TM dysfunction and loss. Here, we report that mutant myocilin activates autophagy but it is functionally impairecd in cultured human trabecular meshwork (TM) cells and in a mouse model of myocilin-associated POAG (Tg-MYOCY437H). Genetic and pharmacological inhibition of autophagy worsens mutant myocilin accumulation and exacerbates IOP elevation in Tg-MYOCY437H mice. Remarkably, impaired autophagy is associated with chronic ER stress-induced transcriptional factor, CHOP. Deletion of CHOP corrects impaired autophagy, enhances recognition and degradation of mutant myocilin by autophagy,and reduces glaucoma in Tg-MYOCY437H mice. Stimulating autophagic flux via Tat-beclin 1 peptide or torin 2, promotes autophagic degradation of mutant myocilin and reduces elevated IOP in Tg-MYOCY437H mice. Together, our studies provide a novel treatment strategy for myocilin-associated POAG by correcting impaired autophagy in the TM.
Ramesh B. Kasetti, Prabhavathi Maddineni, Charles C. Kiehlbauch, Shruti Patil, Charles C. Searby, Beth Levine, Val C. Sheffield, Gulab S. Zode