Basonuclin-Null Mutation Impairs Homeostasis and Wound Repair in Mouse Corneal Epithelium
At least two cellular processes are required for corneal epithelium homeostasis and wound repair: cell proliferation and cell-cell adhesion. These processes are delicately balanced to ensure the maintenance of normal epithelial function. During wound healing, these processes must be reprogrammed in coordination to achieve a rapid re-epithelialization. Basonuclin (Bnc1) is a cell-type-specific transcription factor expressed mainly in the proliferative keratinocytes of stratified epithelium (e.g., corneal epithelium, epidermis and esophageal epithelium) and the gametogenic cells in testis and ovary. Our previous work suggested that basonuclin could regulate transcription of ribosomal RNA genes (rDNA) and genes involved in chromatin structure, transcription regulation, cell-cell junction/communication, ion-channels and intracelllular transportation. However, basonuclin's role in keratinocytes has not been demonstrated in vivo. Here we show that basonuclin-null mutation disrupts corneal epithelium homeostasis and delays wound healing by impairing cell proliferation. In basonuclin-null cornea epithelium, RNA polymerase I (Pol I) transcription is perturbed. This perturbation is unique because it affects transcripts from a subset of rDNA. Basonuclin-null mutation also perturbs RNA polymerase II (Pol II) transcripts from genes encoding chromatin structure proteins histone 3 and HMG2, transcription factor Gli2, gap-junction protein connexin 43 and adheren E-cadherin. In most cases, a concerted change in mRNA and protein level is observed. However, for E-cadherin, despite a notable increase in its mRNA level, its protein level was reduced. In conclusion, our study establishes basonuclin as a regulator of corneal epithelium homeostasis and maintenance. Basonuclin likely coordinates functions of a subset of ribosomal RNA genes (rDNA) and a group of protein coding genes in cellular processes critical for the regulation of cell proliferation.