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Expression of the transcription factor Hes3 in the mouse and human ocular surface, and in pterygium

Economopoulou, Matina; Masjkur, Jimmy; Raiskup, Frederik; Ebermann, Doreen; Saha, Sarama; Karl, Mike O.; Funk, Richard; Jaszai, Jozsef; Chavakis, Triantafyllos; Ehrhart-Bornstein, Monika; Pillunat, Lutz E.; Kunz-Schughart, Leoni; Kurth, Ina; Dubrovska, Anna; Androutsellis-Theotokis, Andreas


Matina Economopoulou

Jimmy Masjkur

Frederik Raiskup

Doreen Ebermann

Sarama Saha

Mike O. Karl

Richard Funk

Jozsef Jaszai

Triantafyllos Chavakis

Monika Ehrhart-Bornstein

Lutz E. Pillunat

Leoni Kunz-Schughart

Ina Kurth

Anna Dubrovska

Andreas Androutsellis-Theotokis


Purpose: In this work we examined the presence of the neural stem cell biomarker Hairy and Enhancer of Split 3 (Hes3) in the anterior eye segment and in the aberrant growth condition of the conjunctiva pterygium. Further, we studied the response of Hes3 to irradiation.

Materials and methods: Adult mouse and human corneoscleral junction and conjunctiva, as well as human pterygium were prepared for immunohistochemical detection of Hes3 and other markers. Total body irradiation was used to study the changes in the pattern of Hes3 expression.

Results: The adult rodent and human eye as well as pterygium, contain a population of cells expressing Hes3. In the human eye, Hes3-expressing (Hes3+) cells are found predominantly in the subconjunctival space spanning over the limbus where they physically associate with blood vessels. The cytoarchitecture of Hes3 + cells is similar to those previously observed in the adult central nervous system. Furthermore, irradiation reduces the number of Hes3 + cells in the subconjunctival space. In contrast, irradiation strongly promotes the nuclear localization of Hes3 in the ciliary body epithelium.

Conclusions: Our results suggest that a recently identified signal transduction pathway that regulates neural stem cells and glioblastoma cancer stem cells also operates in the ocular surface, ciliary body, and in pterygium.


Economopoulou, M., Masjkur, J., Raiskup, F., Ebermann, D., Saha, S., Karl, M. O., …Androutsellis-Theotokis, A. (in press). Expression of the transcription factor Hes3 in the mouse and human ocular surface, and in pterygium. International Journal of Radiation Biology, 90(8),

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 29, 2014
Online Publication Date Mar 25, 2014
Deposit Date May 12, 2017
Journal International Journal of Radiation Biology
Print ISSN 0955-3002
Electronic ISSN 1362-3095
Publisher Taylor & Francis Open
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 90
Issue 8
Keywords Hes3, neural stem cells, eye, pterygium, conjunctiva, irradiation
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