Developmental analysis of SV2 in the embryonic chicken corneal epithelium

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Intraepithelial corneal nerves (ICNs) help protect the cornea as part of the blink reflex and by modulating tear production. ICNs are also thought to regulate the health and homeostasis of the cornea through the release of trophic factors. Disruption to these nerves can lead to vision loss. Despite their importance little is known about how corneal nerves function and even less is known about how the cornea is initially innervated during its embryonic development. Here, we investigated the innervation of the embryonic chicken cornea. Western blot and immunohistochemistry were used to characterize the localization of the synaptic vesicle marker SV2, a molecule thought to be involved in the release of trophic factors from sensory nerves. The data show that both SV2 and synaptotagmin co-localize to ICNs. Nerves in the conjunctiva also contained SV2 and synaptotagmin, but these were localized to below the basal layers of the conjunctiva epithelium. SV2 isolated from corneal epithelium migrates in western blot at a heavier weight than SV2 isolated from brain, which suggests a role in vesicle targeting, as the deglycosylating enzyme PnGase does not affect corneal SV2.HIGHLIGHTSThe secretory vesicle marker SV2 colocalizes with intraepithelial corneal nerves during embryonic development.SV2 colocalizes with the calcium sensor Synaptotagmin in corneal nerves, but is absent from the conjunctival epithelium.Corneal SV2 is a unique size compared to SV2 isolated from brain and this is not to due to glycosylation.

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