Single cell transcriptomics reveals the heterogeneity of the human cornea to identify novel markers of the limbus and stroma

P. Catala, N. Groen, J.A. Dehnen, E. Soares, A.J.H. van Velthoven, R.M.M.A. Nuijts, M.M. Dickman*, V.L.S. LaPointe*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Web of Science)

Abstract

The cornea is the clear window that lets light into the eye. It is composed of five layers: epithelium, Bowman's layer, stroma, Descemet's membrane and endothelium. The maintenance of its structure and transparency are determined by the functions of the different cell types populating each layer. Attempts to regenerate corneal tissue and understand disease conditions requires knowledge of how cell profiles vary across this heterogeneous tissue. We performed a single cell transcriptomic profiling of 19,472 cells isolated from eight healthy donor corneas. Our analysis delineates the heterogeneity of the corneal layers by identifying cell populations and revealing cell states that contribute in preserving corneal homeostasis. We identified expression of CAV1, HOMER3 and CPVL in the corneal epithelial limbal stem cell niche, CKS2, STMN1 and UBE2C were exclusively expressed in highly proliferative transit amplifying cells, CXCL14 was expressed exclusively in the suprabasal/superficial limbus, and NNMT was exclusively expressed by stromal keratocytes. Overall, this research provides a basis to improve current primary cell expansion protocols, for future profiling of corneal disease states, to help guide pluripotent stem cells into different corneal lineages, and to understand how engineered substrates affect corneal cells to improve regenerative therapies.
Original languageEnglish
Article number21727
Number of pages13
JournalScientific Reports
Volume11
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 5 Nov 2021

Keywords

  • STEM-CELLS
  • SURFACE MARKERS
  • IN-VITRO
  • EXPRESSION
  • EPITHELIUM
  • DIFFERENTIATION
  • IDENTIFICATION
  • ENDOTHELIUM
  • HOMEOSTASIS
  • POPULATION

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