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The outer segment of the vertebrate rod photoreceptor is a highly modified cilium composed of many discrete membranous discs that are filled with the protein machinery necessary for phototransduction. The unique outer segment structure is renewed daily with growth at the base of the outer segment where new discs are formed and shedding at the distal end where old discs are phagocytized by the retinal pigment epithelium. In order to understand how outer segment renewal is regulated to maintain outer segment length and function, we used a small molecule screening approach with the transgenic (hsp70:HA-mCherryTM) zebrafish, which expresses a genetically-encoded marker of outer segment renewal. We identified compounds with known bioactivity that affect five content areas: outer segment growth, outer segment shedding, clearance of shed outer segment tips, Rhodopsin mislocalization, and differentiation at the ciliary marginal zone. Signaling pathways that are targeted by the identified compounds include cyclooxygenase in outer segment growth, γ-Secretase in outer segment shedding, and mTor in RPE phagocytosis. The data generated by this screen provides a foundation for further investigation of the signaling pathways that regulate photoreceptor outer segment renewal.
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Campbell, Leah J.; West, Megan C.; and Jensen, Abbie M., "A high content, small molecule screen identifies candidate molecular pathways that regulate rod photoreceptor outer segment renewal" (2018). Scientific Reports. 627.