Differential expression of cyclin-dependent kinases in the adult human retina in relation to CDK inhibitor retinotoxicity

Phillip Wright, Janet Kelsall, Guy Healing, Julie Sanderson

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Cyclin-dependent kinases (CDKs) are a family of kinases associated predominantly with cell cycle control, making CDK inhibitors interesting candidates for anti-cancer therapeutics. However, retinal toxicity (loss of photoreceptors) has been associated with CDK inhibitors, including the pan-CDK inhibitor AG-012896. The purpose of this research was to use a novel planar sectioning technique to determine CDK expression profiles in the ex vivo human retina with the aim of identifying isoforms responsible for CDK retinotoxicity. Four CDK isoforms (CDK11, 16, 17 and 18) were selected as a result of IC50 data comparing neurotoxic (AG-012986 and NVP-1) and non-neurotoxic (dinaciclib and NVP-2) CDK inhibitors, with IC50s at CDK11 showing a clear difference between the neurotoxic and non-neurotoxic drugs. CDK11 was maximally expressed in the photoreceptor layer, whereas CDK16, 17 and 18 showed maximal expression in the inner nuclear layer. CDK5 (an isoform associated with retinal homeostasis) was maximally expressed in the retinal ganglion cell layer. Apart from CDK18, each isoform showed expression in the photoreceptor layer. The human Müller cell line MIO-M1 expressed CDK5, 11, 16 and 17 and AG-01298 (0.02–60 µM) caused a dose-dependent increase in MIO-M1 cell death. In conclusion, CDK11 appears the most likely candidate for mediation of photoreceptor toxicity. RNA profiling can be used to determine the distribution of genes of interest in relation to retinal toxicity in the human retina.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)659–671
Number of pages13
JournalArchives of Toxicology
Issue number3
Early online date8 Jan 2019
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019


  • CDK
  • CDK inhibitors
  • Human
  • Müller cell
  • Retina
  • Retinotoxicity

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