David Kipling, Dawn L. Jones, S. Kaye Smith, Peter J. Giles, Katrin Jennert-Burston, Badr Ibrahim, Angela N.P. Sheerin, Amy J.C. Evans, William Rhys-Willams and Richard G.A. Faragher,
There is a growing need within ocular research for well-defined cellular models of normal corneal biology. To meet this need we created and partially characterised a standard strain of human fibroblastoid keratocytes (EK1.Br) and demonstrated that phenotypic changes occur within these cells with replicative senescence in vitro. Using Affymetrix HG-U133A oligonucleotide arrays, this paper reports both a comprehensive analysis of the transcriptome of EK1.Br in the growing, quiescent and senescent states and a comparison of that transcriptome with those of primary corneal endothelium, lung fibroblasts and dermal fibroblasts grown under identical conditions. Data mining shows (i) that EK1.Br retain the characteristic transcriptional fingerprint of keratocytes in vitro (ii) that this phenotype can be distinguished from those of other ‘fibroblasts’ by groups of highly differentially expressed genes and (iii) that senescence induces a distinct dedifferentiation phenomenon in EK1.Br. These findings are contextualised into the broader literature on replicative senescence and are supported with a web-accessible and fully searchable public-access database.