S100A4, a member of the S100 family of multifunctional calcium-binding proteins, participates in several physiological and pathological processes. In this study, we demonstrate that S100A4 expression is robustly induced in differentiating fiber cells of the ocular lens and that S100A4(−/−) knockout mice develop late-onset cortical cataracts. Transcriptome profiling of lenses from S100A4(−/−) mice revealed a robust increase in the expression of multiple photoreceptor- and Müller glia-specific genes, as well as the olfactory sensory neuron-specific gene, S100A5. This aberrant transcriptional profile is characterized by corresponding increases in the levels of proteins encoded by the aberrantly upregulated genes. Ingenuity pathway network and curated pathway analyses of differentially expressed genes in S100A4(−/−) lenses identified Crx and Nrl transcription factors as the most significant upstream regulators, and revealed that many of the upregulated genes possess promoters containing a high-density of CpG islands bearing trimethylation marks at histone H3K27 and/or H3K4, respectively. In support of this finding, we further documented that S100A4(−/−) knockout lenses have altered levels of trimethylated H3K27 and H3K4. Taken together, our findings suggest that S100A4 suppresses the expression of retinal genes during lens differentiation plausibly via a mechanism involving changes in histone methylation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas