PloS one

Serum TRPM1 autoantibodies from melanoma associated retinopathy patients enter retinal on-bipolar cells and attenuate the electroretinogram in mice.

PMID 23936334


Melanoma-associated retinopathy (MAR) is a paraneoplastic syndrome associated with cutaneous malignant melanoma and the presence of autoantibodies that label neurons in the inner retina. The visual symptoms and electroretinogram (ERG) phenotype characteristic of MAR resemble the congenital visual disease caused by mutations in TRPM1, a cation channel expressed by both melanocytes and retinal bipolar cells. Four serum samples from MAR patients were identified as TRPM1 immunoreactive by 1. Labeling of ON-bipolar cells in TRPM1+/+ but not TRPM1-/- mouse retina, 2. Labeling of TRPM1-transfected CHO cells; and 3. Attenuation of the ERG b-wave following intravitreal injection of TRPM1-positive MAR IgG into wild-type mouse eyes, and the appearance of the IgG in the retinal bipolar cells at the conclusion of the experiment. Furthermore, the epitope targeted by the MAR autoantibodies was localized within the amino-terminal cytoplasmic domain of TRPM1. Incubation of live retinal neurons with TRPM1-positive MAR serum resulted in the selective accumulation of IgG in ON-bipolar cells from TRPM1+/+ mice, but not TRPM1-/- mice, suggesting that the visual deficits in MAR are caused by the uptake of TRPM1 autoantibodies into ON-bipolar cells, where they bind to an intracellular epitope of the channel and reduce the ON-bipolar cell response to light.