[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In vitro generation of photoreceptors from stem cells is of great interest for the development of regenerative medicine approaches for patients affected by retinal degeneration and for high throughput drug screens for these diseases. In this study, we show unprecedented high percentages of rod-fated cells from retinal stem cells of the adult ciliary epithelium. Molecular characterization of rod-like cells demonstrates that they lose ciliary epithelial characteristics but acquire photoreceptor features. Rod maturation was evaluated at two levels: gene expression and electrophysiological functionality. Here we present a strong correlation between phototransduction protein expression and functionality of the cells in vitro. We demonstrate that in vitro generated rod-like cells express cGMP-gated channels that are gated by endogenous cGMP. We also identified voltage-gated channels necessary for rod maturation and viability. This level of analysis for the first time provides evidence that adult retinal stem cells can generate highly homogeneous rod-fated cells.
PLoS ONE 01/2012; 7(3):e33338. · 3.73 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Humans with Hermansky-Pudlak Syndrome (HPS) or ocular albinism (OA1) display abnormal aspects of organelle biogenesis. The multigenic disorder HPS displays broad defects in biogenesis of lysosome-related organelles including melanosomes, platelet dense granules, and lysosomes. A phenotype of ocular pigmentation in OA1 is a smaller number of macromelanosomes, in contrast to HPS, where in many cases the melanosomes are smaller than normal. In these studies we define the role of the Mreg(dsu) gene, which suppresses the coat color dilution of Myo5a, melanophilin, and Rab27a mutant mice in maintaining melanosome size and distribution. We show that the product of the Mreg(dsu) locus, melanoregulin (MREG), interacts both with members of the HPS BLOC-2 complex and with Oa1 in regulating melanosome size. Loss of MREG function facilitates increase in the size of micromelanosomes in the choroid of the HPS BLOC-2 mutants ruby, ruby2, and cocoa, while a transgenic mouse overexpressing melanoregulin corrects the size of retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) macromelanosomes in Oa1(ko/ko) mice. Collectively, these results suggest that MREG levels regulate pigment incorporation into melanosomes. Immunohistochemical analysis localizes melanoregulin not to melanosomes, but to small vesicles in the cytoplasm of the RPE, consistent with a role for this protein in regulating membrane interactions during melanosome biogenesis. These results provide the first link between the BLOC pathway and Oa1 in melanosome biogenesis, thus supporting the hypothesis that intracellular G-protein coupled receptors may be involved in the biogenesis of other organelles. Furthermore these studies provide the foundation for therapeutic approaches to correct the pigment defects in the RPE of HPS and OA1.
PLoS ONE 01/2012; 7(9):e42446. · 3.73 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: One of the limitations in molecular and functional studies of the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) has been the lack of an in vitro system retaining all the features of in vivo RPE cells. Retinal pigment epithelium cell lines do not show characteristics typical of a functional RPE, such as pigmentation and expression of specific markers. The present study was aimed at the development of culture conditions to differentiate, in vitro, retinal stem cells (RSC), derived from the adult ciliary body, into a functional RPE. Retinal stem cells were purified from murine eyes, grown as pigmented neurospheres and induced to differentiate into RPE on an extracellular matrix substrate using specific culture conditions. After 7-15 days of culture, pigmented cells with an epithelial morphology showed a polarized organization and a capacity for phagocytosis. We detected different stages of melanogenesis in cells at 7 days of differentiation, whereas RPE at 15 days contained only mature melanosomes. These data suggest that our protocol to differentiate RPE in vitro can provide a useful model for molecular and functional studies.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Despite the recent success of gene-based complementation approaches for genetic recessive traits, the development of therapeutic strategies for gain-of-function mutations poses great challenges. General therapeutic principles to correct these genetic defects mostly rely on post-transcriptional gene regulation (RNA silencing). Engineered zinc-finger (ZF) protein-based repression of transcription may represent a novel approach for treating gain-of-function mutations, although proof-of-concept of this use is still lacking. Here, we generated a series of transcriptional repressors to silence human rhodopsin (hRHO), the gene most abundantly expressed in retinal photoreceptors. The strategy was designed to suppress both the mutated and the wild-type hRHO allele in a mutational-independent fashion, to overcome mutational heterogeneity of autosomal dominant retinitis pigmentosa due to hRHO mutations. Here we demonstrate that ZF proteins promote a robust transcriptional repression of hRHO in a transgenic mouse model of autosomal dominant retinitis pigmentosa. Furthermore, we show that specifically decreasing the mutated human RHO transcript in conjunction with unaltered expression of the endogenous murine Rho gene results in amelioration of disease progression, as demonstrated by significant improvements in retinal morphology and function. This zinc-finger-based mutation-independent approach paves the way towards a 'repression-replacement' strategy, which is expected to facilitate widespread applications in the development of novel therapeutics for a variety of disorders that are due to gain-of-function mutations.
EMBO Molecular Medicine 01/2011; 3(3):118-28. · 7.80 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Photoreceptor degeneration is the hallmark of a group of inherited blinding diseases collectively termed retinitis pigmentosa (RP); a major cause of blindness in humans. RP is at present untreatable and the underlying neurodegenerative mechanisms are largely unknown, even though the genetic causes are often established. The activation of calpain-type proteases may play an important role in cell death in various neuronal tissues, including the retina. We therefore tested the efficacy of two different calpain inhibitors in preventing cell death in the retinal degeneration (rd1) human homologous mouse model for RP. Pharmacological inhibition of calpain activity in rd1 organotypic retinal explants had ambiguous effects on photoreceptor viability. Calpain inhibitor XI had protective effects when applied for short periods of time (16 h) but demonstrated substantial levels of toxicity in both wild-type and rd1 retina when used over several days. In contrast, the highly specific calpain inhibitor calpastatin peptide reduced photoreceptor cell death in vitro after both short and prolonged exposure, an effect that was also evident after in vivo application via intravitreal injection. These findings highlight the importance of calpain activation for photoreceptor cell death but also for photoreceptor survival and propose the use of highly specific calpain inhibitors to prevent or delay RP.
Journal of Neurochemistry 11/2010; 115(4):930-40. · 3.97 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The retina is subject to degenerative conditions leading to blindness. Although retinal regeneration is possible in lower vertebrates, it does not occur in the adult mammalian retina. Retinal stem cell (RSC) research offers unique opportunities for developing clinical application for therapy. The ciliary body of adult mammals represents a source of quiescent RSC. These neural progenitors have a limited self-renewal potential in vitro but this can be improved by mitogens. Pigment Epithelium Derived Factor (PEDF), a member of the serpin gene family, is synthesized and secreted by retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) cells. We tested combinations of PEDF with fibroblast growth factor (FGF) during RSC growth to evaluate self-renewal and subsequent differentiation into retinal-like neuronal cell types. Medium supplemented with FGF + PEDF enhanced the RSC yield and more interestingly allowed expansion of the culture by increasing secondary retinal neurospheres after the 1st passage. This effect was accompanied by cell proliferation as revealed by BrdU incorporation. PEDF usage did not affect rod-like differentiation potential. This was demonstrated by immunofluorescence analysis of Rhodopsin and Pde6b that were found similarly expressed in cells derived from FGF or FGF + PEDF cultured RSC. Our studies suggest a possible application of PEDF in Retinal Stem Cell culture and transplantation.
Advances in experimental medicine and biology 01/2010; 664:621-30. · 1.83 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: OA1 (GPR143; GPCR, G-protein-coupled receptor), the protein product of the ocular albinism type 1 gene, encodes a pigment-cell-specific GPCR that localizes intracellularly to melanosomes. OA1 mutations result in ocular albinism due to alterations in melanosome formation, suggesting that OA1 is a key player in the biogenesis of melanosomes. To address the function of OA1 in melanosome biogenesis, we have used siRNA inactivation and combined morphological and biochemical methods to investigate melanosome ultrastructure, melanosomal protein localization and expression in human pigmented melanocytic cells. OA1 loss of function leads to decreased pigmentation and causes formation of enlarged aberrant premelanosomes harboring disorganized fibrillar structures and displaying proteins of mature melanosomes and lysosomes at their membrane. Moreover, we show that OA1 interacts biochemically with the premelanosomal protein MART-1. Inactivation of MART-1 by siRNA leads to a decreased stability of OA1 and is accompanied by similar defects in premelanosome biogenesis and composition. These data show for the first time that melanosome composition and identity are regulated at early stages by OA1 and that MART-1 likely acts as an escort protein for this GPCR.
Human Molecular Genetics 09/2009; 18(23):4530-45. · 7.69 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The protein product of the ocular albinism type 1 gene, named OA1, is a pigment cell-specific G protein-coupled receptor exclusively localized to intracellular organelles, namely lysosomes and melanosomes. Loss of OA1 function leads to the formation of macromelanosomes, suggesting that this receptor is implicated in organelle biogenesis, however the mechanism involved in the pathogenesis of the disease remains obscure. We report here the identification of an unexpected abnormality in melanosome distribution both in retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) and skin melanocytes of Oa1-knock-out (KO) mice, consisting in a displacement of the organelles from the central cytoplasm towards the cell periphery. Despite their depletion from the microtubule (MT)-enriched perinuclear region, Oa1-KO melanosomes were able to aggregate at the centrosome upon disruption of the actin cytoskeleton or expression of a dominant-negative construct of myosin Va. Consistently, quantification of organelle transport in living cells revealed that Oa1-KO melanosomes displayed a severe reduction in MT-based motility; however, this defect was rescued to normal following inhibition of actin-dependent capture at the cell periphery. Together, these data point to a defective regulation of organelle transport in the absence of OA1 and imply that the cytoskeleton might represent a downstream effector of this receptor. Furthermore, our results enlighten a novel function for OA1 in pigment cells and suggest that ocular albinism type 1 might result from a different pathogenetic mechanism than previously thought, based on an organelle-autonomous signalling pathway implicated in the regulation of both membrane traffic and transport.
Human Molecular Genetics 09/2008; 17(22):3487-501. · 7.69 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Retinitis pigmentosa (RP) is one of the leading causes of visual handicap in the world population and is characterized by high genetic heterogeneity. The study of the disease mechanisms and the development of efficient therapeutic approaches have mostly relied on the availability of animal models for this condition, so far. Nevertheless, little information is available about the RNA expression profiles of RP genes in the human retina. An expression atlas of 34 known RP genes in human and murine retinas was generated to overcome this lack of information.
Appropriate templates were retrieved for 34 RP genes that were used to perform RNA in situ hybridization studies on human and murine adult eyes.
Most of the genes displayed similar patterns between human and mouse retina. Different expression patterns were observed for the CNGB1, USH2A, and FSCN2 genes, compared with those in previously reported profiles. In addition, different expression profiles were detected for the RPGR, CA4, PAP1, RGR, and RLBP1 genes in human and mouse retinas.
The first gene expression atlas has been generated of RP genes in human and murine retinas. Differences observed in the expression patterns of some genes in humans and mice, will open new perspectives on the function of these genes and their putative roles in disease pathogenesis.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Evaluation of: Osakada F, Ikeda H, Mandai M et al. Toward the generation of rod and cone photoreceptors from mouse, monkey and human embryonic stem cells. Nat. Biotechnol. 26(2), 215-224 (2008).Retinitis pigmentosa is a degenerative disease causing blindness in later life. More than 30 genes have been linked to this hereditary disease. Heterogeneity of such magnitude in retinitis pigmentosa represents a major impediment to the development of therapeutics, hence mutation-independent approaches have to be exploited. The loss of retinal neurons is generally regarded as the irreversible cause, and the end-stage, of blindness. Any strategy to restore sight in these cases would almost certainly require cell replacement or transplantation. The paper under evaluation offers methods for in vitro differentiation of murine, monkey and human embryonic stem cells into photoreceptor-like cells. This is an important step forward in the generation of cells apt for retinal transplants.
Expert Review of Ophthalmology 05/2008; 3(3):265-268.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We report mutations in the gene for topoisomerase I-binding RS protein (TOPORS) in patients with autosomal dominant retinitis pigmentosa (adRP) linked to chromosome 9p21.1 (locus RP31). A positional-cloning approach, together with the use of bioinformatics, identified TOPORS (comprising three exons and encoding a protein of 1,045 aa) as the gene responsible for adRP. Mutations that include an insertion and a deletion have been identified in two adRP-affected families--one French Canadian and one German family, respectively. Interestingly, a distinct phenotype is noted at the earlier stages of the disease, with an unusual perivascular cuff of retinal pigment epithelium atrophy, which was found surrounding the superior and inferior arcades in the retina. TOPORS is a RING domain-containing E3 ubiquitin ligase and localizes in the nucleus in speckled loci that are associated with promyelocytic leukemia bodies. The ubiquitous nature of TOPORS expression and a lack of mutant protein in patients are highly suggestive of haploinsufficiency, rather than a dominant negative effect, as the molecular mechanism of the disease and make rescue of the clinical phenotype amenable to somatic gene therapy.
The American Journal of Human Genetics 12/2007; 81(5):1098-103. · 11.20 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Severe inherited retinal diseases, such as retinitis pigmentosa and Leber congenital amaurosis, are caused by mutations in genes preferentially expressed in photoreceptors. While adeno-associated virus (AAV)-mediated gene transfer can correct retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) defects in animal models, approaches for the correction of photoreceptor-specific diseases are less efficient. We evaluated the ability of novel AAV serotypes (AAV2/7, AAV2/8, AAV2/9, AAV2rh.43, AAV2rh.64R1, and AAV2hu.29R) in combination with constitutive or photoreceptor-specific promoters to improve photoreceptor transduction, a limiting step in photoreceptor rescue. Based on a qualitative analysis, all AAV serotypes tested efficiently transduce the RPE as well as rod and cone photoreceptors after subretinal administration in mice. Interestingly, AAV2/9 efficiently transduces Müller cells. To compare photoreceptor transduction from different AAVs and promoters in both a qualitative and quantitative manner, we designed a strategy based on the use of a bicistronic construct expressing both enhanced green fluorescent protein and luciferase. We found that AAV2/8 and AAV2/7 mediate six- to eightfold higher levels of in vivo photoreceptor transduction than AAV2/5, considered so far the most efficient AAV serotype for photoreceptor targeting. In addition, following subretinal administration of AAV, the rhodopsin promoter allows significantly higher levels of photoreceptor expression than the other ubiquitous or photoreceptor-specific promoters tested. Finally, we show that AAV2/7, AAV2/8, and AAV2/9 outperform AAV2/5 following ex vivo transduction of retinal progenitor cells differentiated into photoreceptors. We conclude that AAV2/7 or AAV2/8 and the rhodopsin promoter provide the highest levels of photoreceptor transduction both in and ex vivo and that this may overcome the limitation to therapeutic success observed so far in models of inherited severe photoreceptor diseases.
Journal of Virology 11/2007; 81(20):11372-80. · 5.08 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: PRPF3 is an element of the splicing machinery ubiquitously expressed, yet mutations in this gene are associated with a tissue-specific phenotype: autosomal dominant retinitis pigmentosa (RP). Here, we studied the subcellular localization of endogenous- and mutant-transfected PRPF3. We found that (i) subcellular distribution of the endogenous wild-type protein co-localizes with small nuclear ribonucleoproteins, partially with a nucleolar marker and accumulates in speckles labeled by SC35; (ii) in human retinas, PRPF3 does not show a distinctive abundance in photoreceptors, the cells affected in RP and (iii) the RP causing mutant PRPF3, differently from the wild-type protein, forms abnormally big aggregates in transfected photoreceptor cells. Aggregation of T494M mutant PRPF3 inside the nucleus triggers apoptosis only in photoreceptor cells. On the basis of the observation that mutant PRPF3 accumulates in the nucleolus and that transcriptional, translational and proteasome inhibition can induce this phenomenon in non-photoreceptor cells, we hypothesize that mutation affects splicing factor recycling. Noteworthy, accumulation of the mutant protein in big aggregates also affects distribution of some other splicing factors. Our data suggest that the mutant protein has a cell-specific dominant effect in rod photoreceptors while appears not to be harmful to epithelial and fibroblast cells.
Human Molecular Genetics 08/2007; 16(14):1699-707. · 7.69 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Retinal degenerations are the major cause of incurable blindness characterized by loss of retinal photoreceptor cells. Several genes causing these genetic diseases have been identified, however the molecular characterization of a high percentage of patients affected by retinitis pigmentosa (RP), a common form of retinal degeneration, is still unknown. The high genetic heterogeneity of these diseases hampers the comprehension of the pathogenetic mechanism causing photoreceptor cell death. Therapies are not available yet and for this reason there is a lot of interest in understanding the etiology and the pathogenesis of these disorders at a cellular and molecular level. Some common features have been identified in different forms of RP. Apoptosis was reported to be the final outcome in all RP animal models and patients analyzed so far. We recently identified two apoptotic pathways coactivated in photoreceptors undergoing cell death in the retinal degeneration (rd1) mouse model of autosomal recessive RP. Our studies opened new perspectives together with many questions that require deeper analyses in order to take advantage of this knowledge and develop new therapeutic approaches. We believe that minimizing cell demise may represent a promising curing strategy that needs to be exploited for retinal degeneration.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are a class of small, endogenous RNAs that negatively regulate gene expression post-transcriptionally by binding to target sites in the 3' untranslated region (UTR) of messenger RNAs. Although they have been found to regulate developmental and physiological processes in several organs and tissues, their role in the eye transcriptome is completely unknown. This study was conducted to gain understanding of their eye-related function in mammals, by looking for miRNAs significantly expressed in the mouse eye by means of high-resolution expression analysis.
The spatiotemporal localization of miRNAs was analyzed in the murine embryonic and postnatal eye by RNA in situ hybridization (ISH) using LNA-modified oligonucleotide probes.
Seven miRNAs were expressed in the eye with diverse and partially overlapping patterns, which may reflect their role in controlling cell differentiation of the retina as well as of other ocular structures. Most eye-expressed miRNAs overlap with or are in the near vicinity of transcripts derived predominantly from eye cDNA libraries. We found that these transcripts share very similar cellular distribution with their corresponding miRNAs, suggesting that miRNAs may share common expression regulatory elements with their host genes.
The data provide a detailed characterization of expression of eye-enriched miRNAs. Knowledge of the spatiotemporal distribution of miRNAs is an essential step toward the identification of their targets and eventually the elucidation of their biological role in eye development and function.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The developmental processes that mediate differentiation from retinal stem cells (RSC) to different retinal neuronal types remain unclear. During retinal development, progenitor cells modify expression of growth factor (GF) receptors and their differentiation potentials. Similarly, RSC in culture may exhibit alternative molecular characteristics in response to different GF stimuli.
RSC were purified from the adult ciliary margin and exposed to fibroblast growth factor (FGF), epidermal growth factor (EGF), or FGF+EGF. Proliferation was analyzed by bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU) labeling. Differentiation was evaluated by immunofluorescence with antibodies recognizing specific markers of different retinal cell types.
In the absence of GF stimuli, RSC in culture expressed FGFR1, similar to early progenitors in vivo. Treatment with GFs up-regulated the expression of both fibroblast growth factor receptor 1 (FGFR1) and epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR). Exposure to either FGF, EGF, or FGF+EGF strongly affected retinal stem cell-renewal and differentiation. Specifically, expression of progenitor/stem cell markers and stem cell-renewal was higher in the presence of FGF than in that of EGF. FGF favored differentiation of RSC into photoreceptor-like cells. Finally, we showed that the treatment of the primary culture with FGF+EGF imprinted the cells and limited plasticity in subsequent differentiation.
We provide evidence that conditions of the primary culture have a strong influence on cell-renewal and differentiation potentials of RSC.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Molecular mechanisms underlying apoptosis in retinitis pigmentosa, as in other neurodegenerative diseases, are still elusive, and this fact hampers the development of a cure for this blinding disease. We show that two apoptotic pathways, one from the mitochondrion and one from the endoplasmic reticulum, are coactivated during the degenerative process in an animal model of retinitis pigmentosa, the rd1 mouse. We found that both AIF and caspase-12 translocate to the nucleus of dying photoreceptors in vivo and in an in vitro cellular model. Translocation of both apoptotic factors depends on changes in intracellular calcium homeostasis and on calpain activity. Knockdown experiments defined that AIF plays the major role in this apoptotic event, whereas caspase-12 has a reinforcing effect. This study provides a link between two executor caspase-independent apoptotic pathways involving mitochondrion and endoplasmic reticulum in a degenerating neuron.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 12/2006; 103(46):17366-71. · 9.74 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Co-activation and cross-talk of different apoptotic pathways have been described in several systems however, the differential contributions of the different executors have not been well characterized. Here we report the co-translocation to the nucleus of caspase-12 and AIF in response to two endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stresses: protein misfolding and disruption of calcium homeostasis. As seen by treatment with pan-caspase inhibitor and calpain inhibitors, apoptosis is not mediated by executor caspases but by calpains. By reduction of AIF or caspase-12 expression we unraveled that AIF primarily controls apoptosis caused by changes in calcium homeostasis while caspase-12 has a main role in programmed cell death induced by protein misfolding. Nevertheless, the two apoptotic factors appear to reinforce each other during the apoptotic process, confirming that while the first response primarily involves one organelle, mitochondria and ER can influence each other in the apoptotic event.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: An intronic point mutation was identified in the ocular albinism type 1 (OA1) gene (HUGO symbol, GPR143) in a family with the X-linked form of ocular albinism. Interestingly, the mutation creates a new acceptor splice site in intron 7 of the OA1 gene. In addition to low levels of normally spliced mRNA product of the OA1 gene, the patient samples contained also an aberrantly spliced mRNA with a 165 bp fragment of intron 7 (from position +750 to +914) inserted between exons 7 and 8. The abnormal transcript contained a premature stop codon and was unstable, as revealed by Northern blot analysis. We defined that mutation NC_000023.8:g.25288G>A generated a consensus binding motif for the splicing factor enhancer ASF/SF2, which most likely favored transcription of the aberrant mRNA. Furthermore, it activated a cryptic donor-splice site causing the inclusion between exons 7 and 8 of the 165 bp intronic fragment. Thus, the aberrant splicing is most likely explained by the generation of a de novo splicing enhancer motif. Finally, to rescue OA1 expression in the patient's melanocytes, we designed an antisense morpholino modified oligonucleotide complementary to the mutant sequence. The morpholino oligonucleotide (MO) was able to rescue OA1 expression and restore the OA1 protein level in the patient's melanocytes through skipping of the aberrant inclusion. The use of MO demonstrated that the lack of OA1 was caused by the generation of a new splice site. Furthermore, this technique will lead to new approaches to correct splice site mutations that cause human diseases.
Human Mutation 05/2006; 27(5):420-6. · 5.21 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The authors took advantage of the Oa1 mutant mouse in combination with other albinism mouse models (i.e., Tyrosinase and membrane-associated transporter protein [Matp]) to study the function of Oa1, the gene mutated in ocular albinism type 1, in the RPE during development and after birth.
Enzyme activity and protein localization were analyzed by immunohistochemistry of tyrosinase (Tyr) in Oa1-null mice. Ultrastructural analysis and morphometry were performed by electron microscopy, of the RPE in Oa1-knockout mouse and double-mutant mice of Oa1 with either Tyr or Matp.
Differently from other albinism models, Tyr activity was not impaired in Oa1-/- eyes. Hypopigmentation of the RPE in Oa1-/- mice is due to a reduced number of melanosomes. Analysis of Oa1-/-;Tyr(c-2J)/Tyr(c-2J) and Oa1-/-;Matp(uw)/Matp(uw) double-knockout mice, which display a block at stages II and III of melanosome maturation, respectively, revealed that Oa1 controls the rate of melanosome biogenesis at early stages of the organellogenesis, whereas the control on the organelle size is exerted at the final stage of melanosome development (stage IV).
The findings indicate that Oa1 is involved in the regulation of melanosome maturation at two steps. Acting at early maturation stages, Oa1 controls the abundance of melanosomes in RPE cells. At later stages, Oa1 has a function in the maintenance of a correct melanosomal size. This study helps to define ocular albinism type 1 as a defect in melanosome organellogenesis and not in melanin production.