[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Mutations in the human ALMS1 gene cause Alström syndrome (AS), a progressive disease characterized by neurosensory deficits and by metabolic defects including childhood obesity, hyperinsulinemia and Type 2 diabetes. Other features that are more variable in expressivity include dilated cardiomyopathy, hypertriglyceridemia, hypercholesterolemia, scoliosis, developmental delay and pulmonary and urological dysfunctions. ALMS1 encodes a ubiquitously expressed protein of unknown function. To obtain an animal model in which the etiology of the observed pathologies could be further studied, we generated a mouse model using an Alms1 gene-trapped ES cell line. Alms1-/- mice develop features similar to patients with AS, including obesity, hypogonadism, hyperinsulinemia, retinal dysfunction and late-onset hearing loss. Insulin resistance and increased body weight are apparent between 8 and 12 weeks of age, with hyperglycemia manifesting at approximately 16 weeks of age. In addition, Alms1-/- mice have normal hearing until 8 months of age, after which they display abnormal auditory brainstem responses. Diminished cone ERG b-wave response is observed early, followed by the degeneration of photoreceptor cells. Electron microscopy revealed accumulation of intracellular vesicles in the inner segments of photoreceptors, whereas immunohistochemical analysis showed mislocalization of rhodopsin to the outer nuclear layer. These findings suggest that ALMS1 has a role in intracellular trafficking.
Human Molecular Genetics 09/2005; 14(16):2323-33. · 7.69 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Glaucoma is a heterogeneous eye disease and a major cause of blindness worldwide. Recently, primary open angle glaucoma (POAG)-associated mutations have been found in the trabecular meshwork inducible glucocorticoid response gene (TIGR), also known as the myocilin gene (MYOC), at the GLC1A locus on chromosome 1q21-q31. These mutations occurred in a subset of patients with juvenile- and adult-onset POAG and exhibited autosomal dominant inheritance. Ocular expression and its involvement in POAG suggest that TIGR/MYOC may have a role(s) in regulating intraocular pressure (IOP). Here, we report the generation and analysis of mice heterozygous and homozygous for a targeted null mutation in Myoc. Our study shows that Myoc mutant mice are both viable and fertile. Our in vivo findings further demonstrate that Myoc is not required for normal IOP or normal ocular morphology. The lack of a discernable phenotype in both Myoc-heterozygous and Myoc-null mice suggests that haploinsufficiency is not a critical mechanism for POAG in individuals with mutations in MYOC. Instead, disease-causing mutations in humans likely act by gain of function.
Molecular and Cellular Biology 12/2001; 21(22):7707-13. · 5.37 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Hyperhomocysteinemia, a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, is caused by nutritional and/or genetic disruptions in homocysteine metabolism. The most common genetic cause of hyperhomocysteinemia is the 677C-->T mutation in the methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) gene. This variant, with mild enzymatic deficiency, is associated with an increased risk for neural tube defects and pregnancy complications and with a decreased risk for colon cancer and leukemia. Although many studies have reported that this variant is also a risk factor for vascular disease, this area of investigation is still controversial. Severe MTHFR deficiency results in homocystinuria, an inborn error of metabolism with neurological and vascular complications. To investigate the in vivo pathogenetic mechanisms of MTHFR deficiency, we generated mice with a knockout of MTHFR: Plasma total homocysteine levels in heterozygous and homozygous knockout mice are 1.6- and 10-fold higher than those in wild-type littermates, respectively. Both heterozygous and homozygous knockouts have either significantly decreased S-adenosylmethionine levels or significantly increased S-adenosylhomocysteine levels, or both, with global DNA hypomethylation. The heterozygous knockout mice appear normal, whereas the homozygotes are smaller and show developmental retardation with cerebellar pathology. Abnormal lipid deposition in the proximal portion of the aorta was observed in older heterozygotes and homozygotes, alluding to an atherogenic effect of hyperhomocysteinemia in these mice.
Human Molecular Genetics 04/2001; 10(5):433-43. · 7.69 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Corn1 is an autosomal recessive mutation characterized by corneal epithelial hyperplasia and stromal neovascularization. The aim of the present study is to examine the expression patterns of specific epithelial and stromal proteins in corn/corn1 mutant mice.
Immunohistochemistry with antibodies directed against keratins 1, 4, 5, 12, and 14 as well as loricrin, filaggrin, and involucrin were performed in corn1/corn1 and wild type, A.By/SnJ strain, mice at 4 weeks of age. Western blot hybridization was performed to confirm the presence of involucrin in corneas. In situ and northern blot hybridization were used to evaluate the expression of keratin 12, lumican, and keratocan in these mice.
In corn1/corn1 mice, focal areas of corneal epithelial hyperplasia alternate with epithelium with normal appearance. Both regions of normal and hyperplastic corneal epithelium were labeled by anti-keratin 12 antibodies through all corneal epithelial layers. The anti-keratin 14 antibody only labeled the basal cell layer in normal epithelial areas, whereas it labeled both basal and suprabasal cell layers in hyperplastic areas. In wild type mice, anti-keratin 12 antibodies labeled all corneal epithelial layers, whereas anti-keratin 14 labeled the basal corneal epithelial cells only. Positive staining by anti-involucrin antibody was demonstrated in the basal corneal epithelial layer of wild type mice and normal areas of corn1/corn1 mice. Similarly, as observed with anti-keratin 14 antibody, the anti-involucrin antibody labeled both basal and suprabasal cell layers of hyperplastic corneal epithelium of corn1/corn1 mice. Antibodies against keratin 1, keratin 4, loricrin, and fillagrin did not label the corneas of wild type mice or corn1/corn1 mice. Northern hybridization indicated that the expressions of keratocan and lumican mRNA levels were up regulated in corn1/corn1 mice, but keratin 12 mRNA remained similar to that of the wild type mice. In situ hybridization revealed that the lumican mRNA was detected in epithelial and stromal cells of corn1/corn1 mice, whereas keratocan mRNA was only detected in stromal cells.
Hyperproliferative epithelial cells of corn1/corn1 mice have increased levels of expression of keratin 14 and involucrin, but do not exhibit the phenotypical characteristics of cornification. These observations indicate that factors associated with the phenotypes of corn1/corn1 mice do not alter the cornea-type epithelial differentiation of keratin 12 expression, but cause aberrant expression of lumican by corneal epithelial cells.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Glaucoma is a blinding disease usually associated with high intraocular pressure (IOP). In some families, abnormal anterior segment development contributes to glaucoma. The genes causing anterior segment dysgenesis and glaucoma in most of these families are not identified and the affected developmental processes are poorly understood. Bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) participate in various developmental processes. We tested the importance of Bmp4 gene dosage for ocular development and developmental glaucoma.
Bmp4+/- mice have anterior segment abnormalities including malformed, absent or blocked trabecular meshwork and Schlemm's canal drainage structures. Mice with severe drainage structure abnormalities, over 80% or more of their angle's extent, have elevated IOP. The penetrance and severity of abnormalities is strongly influenced by genetic background, being most severe on the C57BL/6J background and absent on some other backgrounds. On the C57BL/6J background there is also persistence of the hyaloid vasculature, diminished numbers of inner retinal cells, and absence of the optic nerve.
We demonstrate that heterozygous deficiency of BMP4 results in anterior segment dysgenesis and elevated IOP. The abnormalities are similar to those in human patients with developmental glaucoma. Thus, BMP4 is a strong candidate to contribute to Axenfeld-Rieger anomaly and other developmental conditions associated with human glaucoma. BMP4 also participates in posterior segment development and wild-type levels are usually critical for optic nerve development on the C57BL/6J background. Bmp4+/- mice are useful for studying various components of ocular development, and may allow identification of strain specific modifiers affecting a variety of ocular phenotypes.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome (WHS) is a deletion syndrome caused by segmental haploidy of chromosome 4p16.3. Its hallmark features include a 'Greek warrior helmet' facial appearance, mental retardation, various midline defects and seizures. The WHS critical region (WHSCR) lies between the Huntington's disease gene, HD, and FGFR3. In mice, the homologs of these genes map to chromosome 5 in a region of conserved synteny with human 4p16.3. To derive mouse models of WHS and map genes responsible for subphenotypes of the syndrome, five mouse lines bearing radiation-induced deletions spanning the WHSCR syntenic region were generated and characterized. Similar to WHS patients, these animals were growth-retarded, were susceptible to seizures and showed midline (palate closure, tail kinks), craniofacial and ocular anomalies (colobomas, corneal opacities). Other phenotypes included cerebellar hypoplasia and a shortened cerebral cortex. Expression of WHS-like traits was variable and influenced by strain background and deletion size. These mice represent the first animal models for WHS. This collection of nested chromosomal deletions will be useful for mapping and identifying loci responsible for the various subphenotypes of WHS, and provides a paradigm for the dissection of other deletion syndromes using the mouse.
Human Molecular Genetics 02/2001; 10(2):91-8. · 7.69 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The iridocorneal angle forms in the mammalian eye from undifferentiated mesenchyme between the root of the iris and cornea. A major component is the trabecular meshwork, consisting of extracellular matrix organized into a network of beams, covered in trabecular endothelial cells. Between the beams, channels lead to Schlemm's canal for the drainage of aqueous humor from the eye into the blood stream. Abnormal development of the iridocorneal angle that interferes with ocular fluid drainage can lead to glaucoma in humans. Little is known about the precise mechanisms underlying angle development. There are two main hypotheses. The first proposes that morphogenesis involves mainly cell differentiation, matrix deposition and assembly of the originally continuous mesenchymal mass into beams, channels and Schlemm's canal. The second, based primarily on rat studies, proposes that cell death and macrophages play an important role in forming channels and beams. Mice provide a potentially useful model to understand the origin and development of angle structures and how defective development leads to glaucoma. Few studies have assessed the normal structure and development of the mouse angle. We used light and electron microscopy and a cell death assay to define the sequence of events underlying formation of the angle structures in mice.
The mouse angle structures and developmental sequence are similar to those in humans. Cell death was not detectable during the period of trabecular channel and beam formation.
These results support morphogenic mechanisms involving organization of cellular and extracellular matrix components without cell death or atrophy.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To characterize the genetics and phenotype of a new mouse mutant with retinal degeneration, rd6, that is associated with extensive, scattered, small white retinal dots seen ophthalmoscopically.
The phenotype was characterized using ophthalmoscopy, fundus photography, electroretinography, light microscopy, immunocytochemistry, and electron microscopy. Genetic characterization and linkage analysis studies were performed using standard methods.
The inheritance pattern of rd6 is autosomal recessive. Linkage analysis mapped rd6 to mouse Chromosome 9 approximately 24 cM from the centromere, suggesting that the human homolog may be on chromosome 11q23. Ophthalmoscopic examination of mice homozygous for rd6 revealed discrete subretinal spots oriented in a regular pattern across the retina. The retinal spots appeared by 8 to 10 weeks of age and persisted through advanced stages of retinal degeneration. Histologic examination revealed large cells in the subretinal space, typically juxtaposed to the retinal pigment epithelium. The white dots seen on fundus examination corresponded both in distribution and size to these large cells. By 3 months of age, the cells were filled with membranous profiles, lipofuscin-like material, and pigment. These cells reacted strongly with an antibody directed against a mouse macrophage-associated antigen. Photoreceptor cells progressively degenerated with age, and an abnormal electroretinogram was initially detected between 1 and 2 months of age.
The fundi of mice homozygous for rd6 exhibit phenotypic similarities to the human flecked retinal disorder retinitis punctata albescens. Thus, rd6/rd6 mice may be a model for understanding the etiology of this or similar disorders. The relationship between the aberrant subretinal cells and the concomitant photoreceptor degeneration remains to be established.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Anterior segment developmental disorders, including Axenfeld-Rieger anomaly (ARA), variably associate with harmfully elevated intraocular pressure (IOP), which causes glaucoma. Clinically observed dysgenesis does not correlate with IOP, however, and the etiology of glaucoma development is not understood. The forkhead transcription factor genes Foxc1 (formerly Mf1 ) and Foxc2 (formerly Mfh1 ) are expressed in the mesenchyme from which the ocular drainage structures derive. Mutations in the human homolog of Foxc1, FKHL7, cause dominant anterior segment defects and glaucoma in various families. We show that Foxc1 (+/-)mice have anterior segment abnormalities similar to those reported in human patients. These abnormalities include small or absent Schlemm's canal, aberrantly developed trabecular meshwork, iris hypoplasia, severely eccentric pupils and displaced Schwalbe's line. The penetrance of clinically obvious abnormalities varies with genetic background. In some affected eyes, collagen bundles were half normal diameter, or collagen and elastic tissue were very sparse. Thus, abnormalities in extracellular matrix synthesis or organization may contribute to development of the ocular phenotypes. Despite the abnormalities in ocular drainage structures in Foxc1 (+/-)mice, IOP was normal in almost all mice analyzed, on all genetic backgrounds and at all ages. Similar abnormalities were found in Foxc2 (+/-)mice, but no disease-associated mutations were identified in the human homolog FKHL14 in 32 ARA patients. Foxc1 (+/-)and Foxc2 (+/-)mice are useful models for studying anterior segment development and its anomalies, and may allow identification of genes that interact with Foxc1 and Foxc2 (or FKHL7 and FKHL14 ) to produce a phenotype with elevated IOP and glaucoma.
Human Molecular Genetics 05/2000; 9(7):1021-32. · 7.69 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Ocular neovascularization is the leading cause of blindness in developed countries and often causes rapid loss of vision in age-related macular degeneration. Acute visual loss is most often due to hemorrhage from new vessels that have extended from the choroid into the subretinal space. Growth of abnormal vessels beneath the retina in this condition is known as subretinal neovascularization (SRN). Age-related animal models of macular degeneration and SRN have not been described. Current animal models of SRN depend on chemical or physical stimuli to initiate growth of subretinal vessels. The genes responsible for age-related human macular degeneration with SRN have not been firmly identified. We report an angiogenic phenotype in Bst/+ mice that is age-related, clinically evident, and resembles human SRN. This represents a spontaneous, genetically determined model of SRN. Bst/+ mice offer the possibility of exploring the molecular mechanisms of SRN without the need for exogenous agents.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 03/2000; 97(5):2191-5. · 9.81 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The tub gene is a member of a small, well conserved neuronal gene family of unknown function. Mutations within this gene lead to early-onset blindness and deafness, as well as late-onset obesity and insulin resistance. To test the hypothesis that mutations within other members of this gene family would lead to similar phenotypes as observed in tubby mice, and hence have similar functional properties, we have generated null mutants of the tubby-like protein ( Tulp ) 1 gene by homologous recombination. Similarly to tubby mice, Tulp1 (-/-)mice exhibit an early-onset retinal degeneration with a progressive, rapid loss of photoreceptors, further supporting the notion that previously identified mutations within the human TULP1 gene are indeed causative of retinitis pigmentosa. However, in contrast to tubby mice, Tulp1 (-/-)mice exhibited normal hearing ability and, surprisingly, normal body weight despite the fact that both TUB and TULP1 are expressed in the same neurons within the hypothalamus in areas known to be involved in feeding behavior and energy homeo stasis. However, TUB and TULP1 show a distinctly different staining pattern in the nucleus of these neurons, perhaps explaining the difference in body weight between the Tulp1 (-/-)and tubby mutant mice.
Human Molecular Genetics 01/2000; 9(2):155-63. · 7.69 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Gene characterization holds great promise for understanding molecular mechanisms of disease. Although glaucoma gene identification is very valuable and allows assessment of an individual's genetic risk, it is not by itself sufficient to answer detailed questions about pathogenesis. Despite the recent identification of a number of glaucoma genes, there are still many questions regarding the ways in which mutations in these genes cause disease. The mouse system, including the ability to alter specific genes, provides a powerful experimental system for hypothesis testing and molecular dissection of pathogenesis subsequent to gene identification. The ability to control both genetic and environmental factors will allow the use of mice to identify modifier genes that alter complex glaucoma phenotypes and that are especially difficult to identify in human families. By providing a bridge between gene identification and tests of gene function, mouse studies will be an important complement to those in humans and other species. This article summarizes the recent use of mice and the future potential of applying approaches of mouse genetics to intraocular pressure and glaucoma research.
Journal of Glaucoma 01/2000; 8(6):400-12. · 1.87 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The mouse lop18 (lens opacity 18) mutation causes a white cataract obvious at weaning age. It soon progresses to a large white nuclear cataract with mild cortical changes. The mutation maps to mouse Chromosome 17 in close linkage to the alphaA-crystallin (Crya) gene, which encodes one of the major vertebrate eye lens proteins. Here we report the identification of a missense mutation in the alphaA-crystallin gene of lop18/lop18 mutant mice.
PCR primers were designed based on the alphaA-crystallin gene sequence from GenBank and PCR products were sequenced.
We have analysed the sequence of the alphaA-crystallin gene from the lop18/lop18 mouse and identified a missense mutation. This mutation is tightly associated with the cataract phenotype, as no recombination was detected in 112 meioses.
Our results suggest that a missense mutation in the alphaA-crystallin gene is responsible for the lop18/lop18 phenotype and Cryalop18 should be used as a gene symbol for the lop18 mutation.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Mice are an increasingly important tool in ophthalmic research. As a result of studying spontaneous and induced mutations, many new ocular diseases have been described in mice in recent years, including several degenerative retinal diseases that demonstrate progression with age. Clearly, documentation of progressive changes in clinical phenotype is an important facet of characterizing new mutations and for comparing them with human diseases. Despite these facts, there are few published photographs of mouse fundi. The small size of the mouse eye and the steep curvature of its structures have made it difficult to obtain high quality fundus photographs. The purpose of this work was to develop procedures for mouse fundus photography and angiography and to use these techniques to examine several new mouse strains with ocular abnormalities.
We have used a small animal fundus camera and condensing lens to develop a reliable technique for producing high quality fundus images of conscious albino and pigmented mice. The fundus camera also was utilized to develop a method for fluorescein angiography, which demonstrated the normal retinal vascular bed as well as abnormal vascular leakage. In addition, several mouse strains with previously unreported ocular abnormalities (including two with inherited optic nerve colobomas) and a catalogue of previously unpublished clinical images for various mutant mice are presented.
Altogether, we provide clinical images for C57BL/6J, BALB/cByJ, retinal degeneration 1 (rd1), Rd2, rd3, rd7, achondroplasia, nervous, motor neuron degeneration, Purkinje cell degeneration, kidney and retinal defects, optic nerve coloboma 1, and two apparently multigenic optic nerve colobomas in a strain of mixed derivation (ONC) and the inbred CALB/Rk strain.
Our photography procedure reliably produces high quality images of the mouse fundus. This permitted us to record progressive retinal changes over time in the same animal, allowed us to compare the phenotypes of newly discovered retinal mutants to existing mutants at other institutions and to potentially similar human conditions, and finally, permitted us to produce a catalogue of previously unpublished clinical phenotypes for various mutant mice.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To demonstrate the importance of genetic background interaction on the development of ocular phenotypes in p53-deficient mice.
Eyes of adult mice, homozygous and heterozygous for the p53 gene disruption in the 129/SvJ and C57BL/6J (B6) genetic backgrounds, and their F1 progeny were examined by indirect ophthalmoscopy and by light microscopy.
Indirect ophthalmoscopy revealed unilateral or bilateral vitreal opacities, fibrous retrolental tissue, and retinal folds in adult B6 mice but not in 129/Sv mice homozygous for a p53 null mutation. In B6 p53-/- mice, blood vessels extended from the peripapillary inner retina through the posterior vitreous and into the retrolental membrane. Optic nerves were hypoplastic.
These findings indicate that alleles from the B6 background contribute to the aberrant ocular phenotypes observed in p53 deficiency. They also suggest that p53 or the pathway in which it functions may be important for normal eye development.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To characterize ocular abnormalities associated with iris atrophy in DBA/2J mice and to determine whether mice of this strain develop elevated intraocular pressure (IOP) and glaucoma.
Different approaches, including slit-lamp biomicroscopy, ophthalmoscopic examination, ultrasound backscatter microscopy, and histology were used to examine the eyes of DBA/2J mice ranging from 2 to 30 months old. IOP was measured in DBA/2J mice of different ages.
DBA/2J mice were found to develop pigment dispersion, iris transillumination, iris atrophy, anterior synechias, and elevated IOP. IOP was elevated in most mice by the age of 9 months. These changes were followed by the death of retinal ganglion cells, optic nerve atrophy, and optic nerve cupping. The prevalence and severity of these lesions increased with age. Optic nerve atrophy and optic nerve cupping was present in the majority of mice by the age of 22 months.
DBA/2J mice develop a progressive form of secondary angle-closure glaucoma that appears to be initiated by iris atrophy and the associated formation of synechias. This mouse strain represents a useful model to evaluate mechanisms of pressure-related ganglion cell death and optic nerve atrophy, and to evaluate strategies for neuroprotection.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Human cataracts may be congenital or appear later in life; nuclear, cortical and lens epithelial proliferation forms have all been described. Due to the high degree of genetic homology, it is not surprising that multiple spontaneous or induced single gene mutations result in morphologically similar forms in the mouse. There are many different mutations in inbred strains of mice in which cataracts are a part of the phenotype. These mutations are of potential value in deciphering the molecular mechanisms involved in cataract formation. This report reviews the currently published cataract mutations in mice.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Examination of mouse strains with a slit lamp and indirect ophthalmoscopy revealed that strain CBA/CaGnLe has a white cataract obvious at weaning age. It soon progresses to a large white nuclear cataract with mild cortical changes. Crosses with C57BL/6J showed that this is inherited as a single recessive fully penetrant gene, which we have designated lop18 (lens opacity 18). Linkage analysis using visible marker T (brachyury), histocompatibility marker H2, and microsatellite markers D17Mit21, D17Mit28, D17Mit38, and D17Mit46 shows that the lop18 gene is located, approximately 16 cM from the centromere on mouse Chromosome 17. It is a likely candidate mutation for the alpha-crystallin (Crya1) gene.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To describe a new mouse model of corneal surface disease and neovascularization.
Anatomic changes were demonstrated in corn1 and control A.By/SnJ mice from day 10 of gestation of 8 months of age by routine techniques of light microscopic and scanning electron microscopy. Corneal epithelial cell kinetics were evaluated by labeling cells in the "S" phase of the cell cycle by intraperitoneal injection of tritiated thymidine. Labeled cells were counted under 250X magnification, and the length of the corneal epithelial chord was measured by morphometric techniques. Results were expressed as labeled cells per linear millimeter of corneal epithelium. The corn1 locus was mapped using selected back-crosses.
Corn1 is characterized by early, irregular thickening of the corneal epithelium, development of stromal neovascularization by 20 days of age, and cataract by 48 days of age. Corneal epithelial cell kinetics demonstrated prominent labelling of corn1 mice at 30 days of age compared to the control mice. Corn1 behaves as an autosomal recessive gene and is located on mouse chromosome 2, approximately 5.2 cM from the agouti locus. Heterozygotes have no corneal disease.
Corn1 mice, with genetically determined corneal epithelial hyperplasia and stromal neovascularization, may be particularly useful in studies of neovascularization and corneal surface proliferative disease.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Although microphthalmia and anophthalmia develop in many animals, they are a consistent and frequent finding in inbred and congenic strains of C57BL mice. Many investigators fail to take account of an incidence that may be as high as 12%, and this may lead to misinterpretation of experimental results. Further confusion may arise from the higher frequency in female mice and from the effects of various environmental and breeding conditions. In anophthalmic and severely microphthalmic mice, there is faulty tear drainage function, which often leads to ocular infections. It should be emphasized that these infections are a function of the ocular malformations arising from the genetic characteristics of C57BL strains and do not represent a failure in proper animal husbandry practices. Histologic studies confirm the consistency and the variability of the ocular findings in these strains. The eye abnormalities may be unilateral or bilateral and, for unexplained reasons, have a strong predilection for the right eye. Microphthalmia may be subtle and clinical anophthalmia may actually represent severe microphthalmia. Accordingly, any conclusions for these inbred strains regarding the eyes should be accompanied by careful microscopic examination of all animals. The most common findings include central corneal opacities, iridocorneal and corneal-lenticular adhesions, abnormal formation of the iris and ciliary body, cataracts, extrusion of lens cortical material with dispersion throughout the eye, failure of vitreous development, and retinal folding. The incidence of all of these findings is increased by exposure to alcohol at critical stages of embryogenesis. Mesodermal dysgenesis of the anterior segment in human eyes mimics the findings seen in inbred C57BL strains of mice, although severe microphthalmia or anophthalmia is less commonly seen. These similar human findings have been associated with a complexity of chromosomal abnormalities and inheritance patterns. Development of the fetal alcohol syndrome in human eyes also provides a phenocopy of the anterior segment abnormalities of mice and of the human familial syndromes. The events, which result in abnormalities in mice and humans, all center around the time in embryogenesis when the optic cup and lens vesicle are developing. In all instances, the lens tends to be smaller than normal and may be displaced in position with relation to the optic cup. This relationship between lens and optic cup is critical in normal development of other ocular structures, including the iris, ciliary body, vitreous, and retina.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)