ABSTRACT: Mutations in PITX2 are associated with Axenfeld-Rieger syndrome (ARS), which involves ocular, dental, and umbilical abnormalities. Identification of cis-regulatory elements of PITX2 is important to better understand the mechanisms of disease.
Conserved noncoding elements surrounding PITX2/pitx2 were identified and examined through transgenic analysis in zebrafish; expression pattern was studied by in situ hybridization. Patient samples were screened for deletion/duplication of the PITX2 upstream region using arrays and probes.
Zebrafish pitx2 demonstrates conserved expression during ocular and craniofacial development. Thirteen conserved noncoding sequences positioned within a gene desert as far as 1.1 Mb upstream of the human PITX2 gene were identified; 11 have enhancer activities consistent with pitx2 expression. Ten elements mediated expression in the developing brain, four regions were active during eye formation, and two sequences were associated with craniofacial expression. One region, CE4, located approximately 111 kb upstream of PITX2, directed a complex pattern including expression in the developing eye and craniofacial region, the classic sites affected in ARS. Screening of ARS patients identified an approximately 7600-kb deletion that began 106 to 108 kb upstream of the PITX2 gene, leaving PITX2 intact while removing regulatory elements CE4 to CE13.
These data suggest the presence of a complex distant regulatory matrix within the gene desert located upstream of PITX2 with an essential role in its activity and provides a possible mechanism for the previous reports of ARS in patients with balanced translocations involving the 4q25 region upstream of PITX2 and the current patient with an upstream deletion.
Investigative ophthalmology & visual science 09/2010; 52(3):1450-9. · 3.43 Impact Factor
ABSTRACT: We report phenotypic and genetic analyses of a recessive, larval lethal zebrafish mutant, bal(a69), characterized by severe eye defects and shortened body axis. The bal(a69) mutation was mapped to chromosome 24 near the laminin alpha 1 (lama1) gene. We analyzed the lama1 gene sequence within bal(a69) embryos and two allelic mutants, bal(arl) and bal(uw1). Missense (bal(a69)), nonsense (bal(arl)), and frameshift (bal(uw1)) alterations in lama1 were found to underlie the phenotypes. Extended analysis of bal(a69) ocular features revealed disrupted lens development with subsequent lens degeneration, focal cornea dysplasia, and hyaloid vasculature defects. Within the neural retina, the ganglion cells showed axonal projection defects and ectopic photoreceptor cells were noted at inner retinal locations. To address whether ocular anomalies were secondary to defects in lens differentiation, bal(a69) mutants were compared to embryos in which the lens vesicle was surgically removed. Our analysis suggests that many of the anterior and posterior ocular defects in bal(a69) are independent of the lens degeneration. Analysis of components of focal adhesion signaling complexes suggests that reduced focal adhesion kinase activation underlies the anterior segment dysgenesis in lama1 mutants. To assess adult ocular phenotypes associated with lama1 mutations, genetic mosaics were generated by transplanting labeled bal cells into ocular-fated regions of wild-type blastulas. Adult chimeric eyes displayed a range of defects including anterior segment dysgenesis and cataracts. Our analysis provides mechanistic insights into the developmental defects and ocular pathogenesis caused by mutations in laminin subunits.
Developmental Biology 12/2006; 299(1):63-77. · 4.07 Impact Factor
ABSTRACT: Laminins represent major components of basement membranes and play various roles in embryonic and adult tissues. The functional laminin molecule consists of three chains, alpha, beta and gamma, encoded by separate genes. There are twelve different laminin genes identified in mammals to date that are highly homologous in their sequence but different in their tissue distribution. The laminin alpha -1 gene was shown to have the most restricted expression pattern with strong expression in ocular structures, particularly in the developing and mature lens.
We identified the zebrafish lama1 gene encoding a 3075-amino acid protein (lama1) that possesses strong identity with the human LAMA1. Zebrafish lama1 transcripts were detected at all stages of embryo development with the highest levels of expression in the developing lens, somites, nervous and urogenital systems. Translation of the lama1 gene was inhibited using two non-overlapping morpholino oligomers that were complementary to sequences surrounding translation initiation. Morphant embryos exhibited an arrest in lens development and abnormalities in the body axis length and curvature.
These results underline the importance of the laminin alpha 1 for normal ocular development and provide a basis for further analysis of its developmental roles.
BMC Developmental Biology 02/2006; 6:13. · 2.79 Impact Factor