Normal-tension glaucoma is a form of optic nerve degeneration that is characterized by loss of retinal ganglion cells independent of eye pressure elevation. In this issue of the JCI, Pan et al. report the discovery in a Japanese family of a mutation in the METTL23 gene, which encodes a DNA methyltransferase that causes normal-pressure glaucoma in haploinsufficiency. Inherited as an autosomal dominant condition, METTL23 deficiency revealed an important function in the regulation of pS2 and the downstream NF-κB signaling pathway, which has previously been linked to glaucomatous optic nerve degeneration. These findings are the first direct link between defective epigenetic regulatory machinery and genetic forms of optic nerve degeneration.
Wendy W. Liu, Yang Sun