The role of retinoic acid related orphan receptor alpha in age-related macular degeneration
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Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a prevalent cause of vision loss and irreversible blindness that affects more than 11 million Americans. AMD is a multifactorial disease with a number of genetic, demographic, and environmental risk factors. Currently the etiology of AMD is still unclear and there are no effective cure for this devastating disease, but recent studies have demonstrated that RORA is a candidate gene involved in AMD pathophysiology. RORA is a critical regulator of multiple biological processes and has been implicated in various physiological processes including circadian rhythm, lipid metabolism, photoreceptor development, autism, and inflammation. Our current study will explore in depth the role of RORA in AMD. We will look at the effects of RORA in the retina of mice. Localization studies of retinal tissues obtained from mice with a conditional knockout of RORA in epithelial cells showed little effect of RORA on structural cells of the retina. However, there was a decrease in VEGF and TGF-B proteins in RORA knockout. This is an interesting finding because VEGF and TGF-B has an important function in angiogenesis and neovascularization which are pathophysiological effects of AMD. In addition, we will try to identify gene targets of RORA that have also been linked with AMD. By identifying the targets of RORA and discovering how RORA regulates these targets, we hope to better understand the role of RORA in AMD pathophysiology. ChIP-seq and software analysis of the data was performed to identify all genomic targets of RORA linked with AMD. A number of promising genes were found in both RORA and AMD networks. The next step of this study is to perform quantitative analysis of these genes and how their expression is affected by RORA. Also, we will perform additional conditional RORA knockout models in cone cells and developing retinal cells to further understand the role of RORA in the retina and AMD pathogenesis.