Primary Open Angle Glaucoma (POAG) is a family of heterogeneous optic neuropathies characterized by progressive retinal ganglion cell (RGC) death that leads to peripheral vision loss and eventually blindness. Various risk factors are associated with glaucoma, however the molecular mechanisms leading to RGC cell death remain unknown.;The optic nerve serves as the conduit for the transmission of retinal ganglion action potentials to the brain. The cells that comprise the optic nerve form a scaffold that forms a physical support for the RGC axons. One cell type found throughout the optic nerve and associated with the RGC axon is the optic nerve astrocyte (ONA). Astrocytes are a predominant cell throughout the CNS and are believed to play crucial roles in metabolic, growth factor, and structural support, and respond to protect neurons during injury. The neuronal-glial interface in the optic nerve is poorly understood and believed to play an important role in POAG pathophysiology, as unmyelenated RGC axons have direct contact with astrocyte processes.;In this study, the subtilisin-like Proprotein Convertases, (SPC) a family of proteases responsible for cleaving a wide variety of protein substrates, were examined in the retina and optic nerve head. PACE4, an SPC found to be secreted and active in the extracellular matrix was found to be highly expressed in the optic nerve, and colocalized to Muller cells in the retina and astrocytes in the optic nerve. Exposure of primary optic nerve astrocytes to oxygen-glucose deprivation (OGD) induces an increase in PACE4 mRNA. Furthermore, protein levels of extracellular, processed PACE4 increase following transient ODG, whereas the pro form of the molecule is degraded, and is believed to be chaperoned by the cleaved cysteine rich domain, a product found at high levels in the optic nerve in situ and the ONA in vitro.;Due to the extracellular activity of PACE4, we hypothesized that it may regulate the bioactivity of TGF-beta2, a growth factor believed to be involved in glaucoma-associated ONH remodeling by inducing the production of extracellular matrix (ECM). When PACE4 is inhibited via siRNA-mediated knockdown, as well as extracellular inactivation, TGF-beta2 levels decrease. In addition, fibronectin, a major component of the ECM, is decreased. Furthermore, there is an increase in latent TGF-beta2 secreted from the cell. It is therefore possible that PACE4 plays an active role in extracellular growth factor maturation, and may be a central mediator for growth factor bioactivity in the glaucomatous ONA.