UCH-L3 belongs to the ubiquitin C-terminal hydrolase family that deubiquitinates ubiquitin-protein conjugates in the ubiquitin-proteasome system. A murine Uchl3 deletion mutant displays retinal degeneration, muscular degeneration, and mild growth retardation. To elucidate the function of UCH-L3, we investigated histopathological changes and expression of apoptosis- and oxidative stress-related proteins during retinal degeneration. In the normal retina, UCH-L3 was enriched in the photoreceptor inner segment that contains abundant mitochondria. Although the retina of Uchl3-deficient mice showed no significant morphological abnormalities during retinal development, prominent retinal degeneration became manifested after 3 weeks of age associated with photoreceptor cell apoptosis. Ultrastructurally, a decreased area of mitochondrial cristae and vacuolar changes were observed in the degenerated inner segment. Increased immunoreactivities for manganese superoxide dismutase, cytochrome c oxidase I, and apoptosis-inducing factor in the inner segment indicated mitochondrial oxidative stress. Expression of cytochrome c, caspase-1, and cleaved caspase-3 did not differ between wild-type and mutant mice; however, immunoreactivity for endonuclease G was found in the photoreceptor nuclei in the mutant retina. Hence, loss of UCH-L3 leads to mitochondrial oxidative stress-related photoreceptor cell apoptosis in a caspase-independent manner. Thus, Uchl3 -deficient mice represent a model for adult-onset retinal degeneration associated with mitochondrial impairment.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine