Beatrice Yue, PhD, receives funding to further her study of optineurin

Beatrice Yue, PhD The biophysical characteristics of optineurin, a gene linked to normal-tension glaucoma and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), is the focus of a recently funded project directed by Beatrice Yue, PhD. Dr. Yue, director of the Ocular Cell Biology Laboratory, Illinois Eye and Ear Infirmary, UIC Department of Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences, is among the vision experts and neuroscientists working to further clarify the functional roles of optineurin.

The BrightFocus Foundation has awarded $100,000 for the project, “Fibril/Oligomer Formation by Optineurin In Vitro.”  According to Dr. Yue, the project will determine for the first time whether optineurin has the potential to form amyloid-like fibrils and the associated oligomeric intermediates. The project also will demonstrate how optineurin concentration, mutation and physiological conditions would affect its fibril formation and whether the fibrils/oligomers are toxic and, if so, how toxicity can be minimized.

“This in vitro investigation will provide the basis and guide the way for future in vivo studies which will allow further insights into the molecular underpinning of glaucoma as well as ALS,” said Dr. Yue. “Our findings may ultimately lead to novel therapies for prevention or treatment of optineurin-related diseases.”

“Dr. Yue is one of our most productive vision scientists and a wonderful role model for our junior faculty,” said Department of Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences Chair Rohit Varma, MD, MPH.

Dr. Yue, the Thanis A. Field Professor of Ophthalmology, has been continually funded by the National Eye Institute since 1981.