Oxidative stress induces Z-DNA-binding protein 1-dependent activation of microglia via mtDNA released from retinal pigment epithelial cells

Jamal Saada, Ryan J. McAuley, Michela Marcatti, Tony Zifeng Tang, Massoud Motamedi, Bartosz Szczesny

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Oxidative stress, inflammation, and aberrant activation of microglia in the retina are commonly observed in ocular pathologies. In glaucoma or age-related macular degeneration, the chronic activation of microglia affects retinal ganglion cells and photoreceptors, respectively, contributing to gradual vision loss. However, the molecular mechanisms that cause activation of microglia in the retina are not fully understood. Here we show that exposure of retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells to chronic low-level oxidative stress induces mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA)-specific damage, and the subsequent translocation of damaged mtDNA to the cytoplasm results in the binding and activation of intracellular DNA receptor Z-DNA-binding protein 1 (ZBP1). Activation of the mtDNA/ZBP1 pathway triggers the expression of proinflammatory markers in RPE cells. In addition, we show that the enhanced release of extracellular vesicles (EVs) containing fragments of mtDNA derived from the apical site of RPE cells induces a proinflammatory phenotype of microglia via activation of ZBP1 signaling. Collectively, our report establishes oxidatively damaged mtDNA as an important signaling molecule with ZBP1 as its intracellular receptor in the development of an inflammatory response in the retina. We propose that this novel mtDNA-mediated autocrine and paracrine mechanism for triggering and maintaining inflammation in the retina may play an important role in ocular pathologies. Therefore, the molecular mechanisms identified in this report are potentially suitable therapeutic targets to ameliorate development of ocular pathologies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101523
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Volume298
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2022
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

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