Development of RGC-Specific Promoters

Donald Zack, MD, PhD Wilmer Eye Institute

Project Details

Although a number of factors can cause glaucoma, the loss of vision is ultimately due to the death of the retinal ganglion cells (RGC) of the optic nerve. Changes in cell function, including those that lead to cell death, are reflected in changes in the pattern of genes that are turned on or off in the cell. Dr. Zack is using molecular biological approaches to identify genes that are specifically expressed in the RGC. He will then use the RGC-specific genes to identify the DNA regulatory elements, called promoters, that turn the RGC genes on. The discovery of RGC-specific genes and their promoters would offer valuable resources for further study by the glaucoma research community. The RGC-specific genes could be used to understand molecular events leading to RGC cell death, and the promoters would be useful in attempts to express a variety of genes, including those with potential therapeutic value in retinal ganglion cells.