Author(s): Schmedt T, Chen Y, Nguyen TT, Li S, Bonanno JA,
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Abstract Human corneal endothelial cells (HCEnCs) form a monolayer of hexagonal cells whose main function is to maintain corneal clarity by regulating corneal hydration. HCEnCs are derived from neural crest and are arrested in the post-mitotic state. Thus cell loss due to aging or corneal endothelial disorders leads to corneal edema and blindness-the leading indication for corneal transplantation. Here we show the existence of morphologically distinct subpopulations of HCEnCs that are interspersed among primary cells and exhibit enhanced self-renewal competence and lack of phenotypic signs of cellular senescence. Colonies of these uniform and hexagonal HCEnCs (HCEnC-21) were selectively isolated and demonstrated high proliferative potential that was dependent on endogenous upregulation of telomerase and cyclin D/CDK4. Further transduction of HCEnC-21 with telomerase yielded a highly proliferative corneal endothelial cell line (HCEnT-21T) that was devoid of oncogenic transformation and retained critical corneal endothelial cell characteristics and functionality. This study will significantly impact the fields of corneal cell biology and regenerative medicine.
This article was published in PLoS One
and referenced in Journal of Cell Science & Therapy