Nakagawa, Tatsuya, et al. “Shotgun proteomics identification of proteins expressed in the Descemet’s membrane of patients with Fuchs endothelial corneal dystrophy.” Scientific Reports 13.1 (2023): 10401. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-023-37104-1
Fuchs endothelial corneal dystrophy (FECD) is a slowly evolving, bilateral disease of the corneal endothelium, characterized by an abnormal accumulation of extracellular matrix (ECM) in the basement membrane (Descemet’s membrane, DM). This results in the formation of small round excrescences, called guttae, and a progressive disappearance of endothelial cells. In the intermediate stage, the numerous guttae create significant optical aberrations, and in the late stage, the loss of endothelial function leads to permanent corneal edema. The molecular components of guttae have not been fully elucidated. In the current study, we conducted shotgun proteomics of the DMs, including guttae, obtained from patients with FECD and revealed that 32 proteins were expressed only in the FECD-DMs but not in the DMs of control subjects. Subsequent enrichment analyses identified associations with multiple ECM-related pathways. Immunostaining of flat-mounted DMs confirmed that 4 of the top 5 identified proteins (hemoglobin α, SRPX2, tenascin-C, and hemoglobin γδεβ) were expressed in FECD-DMs but not in non-FECD-DMs. Fibrinogen α was strongly expressed in FECD-DMs, but weakly expressed in non-FECD-DMs. We also demonstrated that matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization imaging mass spectrometry (MALDI-IMS) can display the in situ spatial distribution of biomolecules expressed in the DM, including the guttae.