Sarthy, Vijay, PhD



Sarthy, Vijay, PhD




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Magerstadt Professor of Ophthalmology, Professor of Cell and Molecular Biology


Tarry 5-735 Chicago

Areas of Research

Cell Biology, Molecular Neuroscience, Vision Science

NU Scholar Profile

Recent Publications on PubMed

Current Research

Current Research

<strong>Gene regulation, development and functional organization of the vertebrate retina</strong>

Neuronal degeneration, injury, infection and trauma lead to cellular changes in neighboring glial cells. Some of the changes are related to wound healing and tissue repair, whereas others reflect glial cell involvement in protecting the neurons from further damage. In the vertebrate retina, rod and cone photoreceptor degeneration results in 'reactive gliosis' and up-regulation of certain genes in the neighboring MÙller (glial) cells. A major goal of our current research work is to elucidate the molecular mechanisms responsible gene induction in 'reactive' MÙller cells. Recent cell transfection studies and experiments with GFAP-lacZ transgenic mice have shown that the glial intermediate filament protein (GFAP) gene is strongly activated in 'reactive' MÙller cells.

Our immediate plans are:

to identify the MÙller cell-specific enhancer and to isolate the transcription factor or factors involved in GFAP induction; and
to determine how extracellular signals (cytokines) regulate activity of the transcription factor.
A future goal is to use GFAP-transgenic mice to study the role of growth factors and cytokines in the retina.

A second project is concerned with molecular cloning, regulation and function of neurotransmitter transporters — a family of membrane proteins that are involved in the uptake of neurotransmitters. We are particularly interested in the role of taurine and glutamate transporters in retinal ischemia and glutamate neurotoxicity. We have cloned and characterized GABA, taurine and glutamate transporters from retina. We have also localized the transporters to specific retinal cell types, and shown that phosphorylation may play a key role in regulating transporter function. Presently, we are studying the role of glutamate transporters in glutamate homeostasis using transporter-knockout mice.

Glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) expression
is a hallmark of reactive gliosis in the CNS.

The figures above shows time course of GFAP-immunostaining in mouse eyes injected with a tiny amount of the cytokine, Ciliary neurotrophic factor (CNTF). Note that within 1 day following CNTF injection, GFAP is seen in retinal MÙller cells and by three days, strong immunostaining is evident in these cells. The results suggest that CNTF is a mediator of reactive gliosis in the mammalian CNS.