[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cone--rod homeobox (CRX), a paired-like homeobox transcription factor, plays a major role in photoreceptor development and maintenance of the retina. Fifteen different mutations in the CRX gene have been identified as a cause of blinding retinal dystrophy. As a step towards characterizing the underlying pathophysiology of disease, temporal and spatial gene expression patterns during human and mouse eye development were investigated for CRX and for downstream retinally expressed genes, postulated to be transactivated by CRX. We found that human CRX was expressed at 10.5 weeks post-conception (p.c.). This was significantly later than observed in mouse development. Immunocytochemistry in human retina showed that CRX protein was not detected until >4 weeks later at 15 weeks p.c., implying that it would be unable to transactivate PDEB, IRBP and arrestin, which were all expressed before 15 weeks. These data therefore eliminate CRX as the major transcriptional activator of these three genes from a wide group of retinal genes that can be transactivated by CRX in vitro. Additionally, PDEB was expressed 2 weeks before CRX whereas murine Pdeb was expressed after Crx, highlighting a potential difference for the role of PDEB in human eye development. Previous data had shown CRX expression in the adult human retina to be photoreceptor-specific; however, we demonstrate that this gene is also expressed in the inner nuclear layer (INL) of the human and mouse retina by in situ hybridization and immunocytochemistry. INL localization of murine Crx was confirmed in rd/rd,cl mice, as in this mouse model the photoreceptors are absent. We have found important differences in the temporal expression of this gene in human and mouse retina, although spatial expression of the CRX gene appears to be conserved. In addition, downstream targets of CRX in vitro might not represent in vivo function during development. These data support concerns about the extent to which we can extrapolate from rodent models regarding embryonic development and disease pathophysiology.
Full-text · Article · Aug 2001 · Human Molecular Genetics
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Isolated human microphthalmia/anophthalmia, a cause of congenital blindness, is a clinically and genetically heterogeneous developmental disorder characterized by a small eye and other ocular abnormalities. Three microphthalmia/anophthalmia loci have been identified, and two others have been inferred by the co-segregation of translocations with the phenotype. We previously found that mice with ocular retardation (the or-J allele), a microphthalmia phenotype, have a null mutation in the retinal homeobox gene Chx10 (refs 7,8). We report here the mapping of a human microphthalmia locus on chromosome 14q24.3, the cloning of CHX10 at this locus and the identification of recessive CHX10 mutations in two families with non-syndromic microphthalmia (MIM 251600), cataracts and severe abnormalities of the iris. In affected individuals, a highly conserved arginine residue in the DNA-recognition helix of the homeodomain is replaced by glutamine or proline (R200Q and R200P, respectively). Identification of the CHX10 consensus DNA-binding sequence (TAATTAGC) allowed us to demonstrate that both mutations severely disrupt CHX10 function. Human CHX10 is expressed in progenitor cells of the developing neuroretina and in the inner nuclear layer of the mature retina. The strong conservation in vertebrates of the CHX10 sequence, pattern of expression and loss-of-function phenotypes demonstrates the evolutionary importance of the genetic network through which this gene regulates eye development.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: X-linked retinoschisis is characterized by microcystic-like changes of the macular region and schisis within the inner retinal layers, leading to visual deterioration in males. Many missense and protein-truncating mutations of the causative gene RS1 have now been identified and are thought to be inactivating. RS1 encodes a 224 amino acid protein, retinoschisin, which contains a discoidin domain but is of unknown function. We have generated a polyclonal antibody against a peptide from a unique region within retinoschisin, which detects a protein of approximately 28 kDa in retinal samples reduced with dithiothreitol, but multimers sized >40 kDa under non-reducing conditions. A screen of human tissues with this antibody reveals retinoschisin to be retina specific and the antibody detects a protein of similar size in bovine and murine retinae. We investigated the expression pattern in the retina of both RS1 mRNA (using in situ hybridization with riboprobes) and retinoschisin (using immunohistochemistry). The antisense riboprobe detected RS1 mRNA only in the photoreceptor layer but the protein product of the gene was present both in the photoreceptors and within the inner portions of the retina. Furthermore, differentiated retinoblastoma cells (Weri-Rb1 cells) were found to express RS1 mRNA and to release retinoschisin. These results suggest that retinoschisin is released by photo-receptors and has functions within the inner retinal layers. Thus, X-linked retinoschisis is caused by abnormalities in a putative secreted photoreceptor protein and is the first example of a secreted photo-receptor protein associated with a retinal dystrophy.
Full-text · Article · Aug 2000 · Human Molecular Genetics