Conjunctival integrity and preservation is indispensable for vision. The self-renewing capacity of conjunctival cells controls conjunctival homeostasis and regeneration; however, the source of conjunctival self-renewal and the underlying mechanism is currently unclear. Here, we characterize the biochemical phenotype and proliferative potential of conjunctival epithelial cells in adult mouse by detecting proliferation-related signatures and conducting clonal analysis. Further, we show that transcription factor 7-like 2 (T-cell-specific transcription factor 4), a DNA binding protein expressed in multiple types of adult stem cells, is highly correlated with proliferative signatures in basal conjunctival epithelia. Clonal studies demonstrated that Transcription factor 7-like 2 (Tcf7l2) was coexpressed with p63α and proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) in propagative colonies. Furthermore, Tcf7l2 was actively transcribed concurrently with conjunctival epithelial proliferation in vitro. Collectively, we suggest that Tcf7l2 may be involved in maintenance of stem/progenitor cells properties of conjunctival epithelial stem/progenitor cells, and with the fornix as the optimal site to isolate highly proliferative conjunctival epithelial cells in adult mice.
- conjunctival epithelium
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