Properties of a New H+ Channel in the Cornea of the Eye

Dowlette Alam El Din

Obtaining a seal to measure single channel events.

Obtaining a seal to measure single channel events.

Undergraduate Student Project

Introduction

The cornea of the eye is a structure that is responsible for the passage of light into the eye and helps to focus light onto the retina. The cornea has three main layers, the epithelium, stroma, and endothelium. Hydration of the cornea determines its transparency and, therefore, affects how light scatters on the eye. Corneal endothelial cells (CEC) have many roles, one of them being that they pump fluid from the stroma to the aqueous humor in order to prevent cloudiness of the cornea. The SLC4A11 gene holds the information for a membrane transport protein that is expressed in the stroma-facing membrane of CECs. It is also one of the genes that cause mutations that lead to endothelial dystrophy. A better understanding of SLC4A11 function will help people with Type-II Congenital Hereditary Endothelial Dystrophy, a condition that clouds the cornea, but will also help all people suffering from all endothelial dystrophies. The central hypothesis of this project is that SLC4A11 protein coordinates the activity of other transport proteins in the cornea, because it is an ion channel that selectively transports H+. This H+ channel has not been characterized before now. Our experiments will determine the electrophysiological properties of this new ion channel.

Abstract

The cornea of the eye is a structure that is responsible for the passage of light into the eye and helps to focus light onto the retina. Hydration of the cornea determines its transparency and, therefore, affects how light scatters on the eye. Corneal endothelial cells (CEC) have many roles, one of them being that they pump fluid from the stroma to the aqueous humor in order to prevent cloudiness of the cornea. The SLC4A11 gene holds the information for a membrane transport protein that is expressed in the stroma-facing membrane of CECs. It is also one of the genes that cause mutations that lead to endothelial dystrophy. The central hypothesis of this project is that SLC4A11 protein coordinates the activity of other transport proteins in the cornea, because it is an ion channel that selectively transports H+.

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