ABSTRACT: RNA was isolated from Xenopus tropicalis rax mutants and wild type siblings. We have identified by tilling a Xenopus tropicalis rax mutant in which the gene has a premature stop codon before the homeobox domain. The rax gene is essential for eye development and has been identified as a causative gene for human ocular malformations such as anophthalmia and microphthalmia. The phenotype of the X.tropicalis mutant replicates the human condition with complete loss or small eyes. By analysis of the full RNA complement of rax mutants compared to wild type siblings we hope to gain a better understanding of the role of rax during eye development and the genes that it regulates. This is part of an ongoing collaboration with Dr Robert Grainger, University of Virginia. This data is part of a pre-publication release. For information on the proper use of pre-publication data shared by the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute (including details of any publication moratoria), please see www.sanger.ac.uk/datasharing/
Project description:RNA was isolated from Xenopus tropicalis rax mutants and wild type siblings. This was used to generate mutant and wild type RNA libraries for solexa sequencing. The sequencing data will be compared to isolate changes that may be caused by loss of rax activity. The RNA samples were extracted with Trizol, then were DNAse treated following the Invitrogen DNAse I protocol and re-precipitated with ethanol. This data is part of a pre-publication release. For information on the proper use of pre-publication data shared by the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute (including details of any publication moratoria), please see http://www.sanger.ac.uk/datasharing/
Project description:The retinal anterior homeobox (rax) gene encodes a transcription factor necessary for vertebrate eye development. rax transcription is initiated at the end of gastrulation in Xenopus, and is a key part of the regulatory network specifying anterior neural plate and retina. We describe here a Xenopus tropicalis rax mutant, the first mutant analyzed in detail from a reverse genetic screen. As in other vertebrates, this nonsense mutation results in eyeless animals, and is lethal peri-metamorphosis. Tissue normally fated to form retina in these mutants instead forms tissue with characteristics of diencephalon and telencephalon. This implies that a key role of rax, in addition to defining the eye field, is in preventing alternative forebrain identities. Our data highlight that brain and retina regions are not determined by the mid-gastrula stage but are by the neural plate stage. An RNA-Seq analysis and in situ hybridization assays for early gene expression in the mutant revealed that several key eye field transcription factors (e.g. pax6, lhx2 and six6) are not dependent on rax activity through neurulation. However, these analyses identified other genes either up- or down-regulated in mutant presumptive retinal tissue. Two neural patterning genes of particular interest that appear up-regulated in the rax mutant RNA-seq analysis are hesx1 and fezf2. These genes were not previously known to be regulated by rax. The normal function of rax is to partially repress their expression by an indirect mechanism in the presumptive retina region in wildtype embryos, thus accounting for the apparent up-regulation in the rax mutant. Knock-down experiments using antisense morpholino oligonucleotides directed against hesx1 and fezf2 show that failure to repress these two genes contributes to transformation of presumptive retinal tissue into non-retinal forebrain identities in the rax mutant.
Project description:The neural-related genes Sox2, Pax6, Otx2, and Rax have been associated with severe ocular malformations such as anophthalmia and microphthalmia, but it remains unclear as to how these genes are linked functionally. We analyzed the upstream signaling of Xenopus Rax (also known as Rx1) and identified the Otx2 and Sox2 proteins as direct upstream regulators of Rax. We revealed that endogenous Otx2 and Sox2 proteins bound to the conserved noncoding sequence (CNS1) located approximately 2 kb upstream of the Rax promoter. This sequence is conserved among vertebrates and is required for potent transcriptional activity. Reporter assays showed that Otx2 and Sox2 synergistically activated transcription via CNS1. Furthermore, the Otx2 and Sox2 proteins physically interacted with each other, and this interaction was affected by the Sox2-missense mutations identified in these ocular disorders. These results demonstrate that the direct interaction and interdependence between the Otx2 and Sox2 proteins coordinate Rax expression in eye development, providing molecular linkages among the genes responsible for ocular malformation.
Project description:BACKGROUND: The genetic cascades underpinning vertebrate early eye morphogenesis are poorly understood. One gene family essential for eye morphogenesis encodes the retinal homeobox (Rx) transcription factors. Mutations in the human retinal homeobox gene (RAX) can lead to gross morphological phenotypes ranging from microphthalmia to anophthalmia. Zebrafish rx3 null mutants produce a similar striking eyeless phenotype with an associated expanded forebrain. Thus, we used zebrafish rx3-/- mutants as a model to uncover an Rx3-regulated gene network during early eye morphogenesis. RESULTS: Rx3-regulated genes were identified using whole transcriptomic sequencing (RNA-seq) of rx3-/- mutants and morphologically wild-type siblings during optic vesicle morphogenesis. A gene co-expression network was then constructed for the Rx3-regulated genes, identifying gene cross-talk during early eye development. Genes highly connected in the network are hub genes, which tend to exhibit higher expression changes between rx3-/- mutants and normal phenotype siblings. Hub genes down-regulated in rx3-/- mutants encompass homeodomain transcription factors and mediators of retinoid-signaling, both associated with eye development and known human eye disorders. In contrast, genes up-regulated in rx3-/- mutants are centered on Wnt signaling pathways, associated with brain development and disorders. The temporal expression pattern of Rx3-regulated genes was further profiled during early development from maternal stage until visual function is fully mature. Rx3-regulated genes exhibited synchronized expression patterns, and a transition of gene expression during the early segmentation stage when Rx3 was highly expressed. Furthermore, most of these deregulated genes are enriched with multiple RAX-binding motif sequences on the gene promoter. CONCLUSIONS: Here, we assembled a comprehensive model of Rx3-regulated genes during early eye morphogenesis. Rx3 promotes optic vesicle morphogenesis and represses brain development through a highly correlated and modulated network, exhibiting repression of genes mediating Wnt signaling and concomitant enhanced expression of homeodomain transcription factors and retinoid-signaling genes.
Project description:Anophthalmia and microphthalmia describe, respectively, the absence of an eye and the presence of a small eye within the orbit. The combined birth prevalence of these conditions is up to 30 per 100,000 population, with microphthalmia reported in up to 11% of blind children. High-resolution cranial imaging, post-mortem examination and genetic studies suggest that these conditions represent a phenotypic continuum. Both anophthalmia and microphthalmia may occur in isolation or as part of a syndrome, as in one-third of cases. Anophthalmia/microphthalmia have complex aetiology with chromosomal, monogenic and environmental causes identified. Chromosomal duplications, deletions and translocations are implicated. Of monogenic causes only SOX2 has been identified as a major causative gene. Other linked genes include PAX6, OTX2, CHX10 and RAX. SOX2 and PAX6 mutations may act through causing lens induction failure. FOXE3 mutations, associated with lens agenesis, have been observed in a few microphthalmic patients. OTX2, CHX10 and RAX have retinal expression and may result in anophthalmia/microphthalmia through failure of retinal differentiation. Environmental factors also play a contributory role. The strongest evidence appears to be with gestational-acquired infections, but may also include maternal vitamin A deficiency, exposure to X-rays, solvent misuse and thalidomide exposure. Diagnosis can be made pre- and post-natally using a combination of clinical features, imaging (ultrasonography and CT/MR scanning) and genetic analysis. Genetic counselling can be challenging due to the extensive range of genes responsible and wide variation in phenotypic expression. Appropriate counselling is indicated if the mode of inheritance can be identified. Differential diagnoses include cryptophthalmos, cyclopia and synophthalmia, and congenital cystic eye. Patients are often managed within multi-disciplinary teams consisting of ophthalmologists, paediatricians and/or clinical geneticists, especially for syndromic cases. Treatment is directed towards maximising existing vision and improving cosmesis through simultaneous stimulation of both soft tissue and bony orbital growth. Mild to moderate microphthalmia is managed conservatively with conformers. Severe microphthalmia and anophthalmia rely upon additional remodelling strategies of endo-orbital volume replacement (with implants, expanders and dermis-fat grafts) and soft tissue reconstruction. The potential for visual development in microphthalmic patients is dependent upon retinal development and other ocular characteristics.
Project description:Anophthalmia and microphthalmia (A/M) are significant eye defects because they can have profound effects on visual acuity. A/M is associated with non-ocular abnormalities in an estimated 33-95% of cases and around 25% of patients have an underlying genetic syndrome that is diagnosable. Syndrome recognition is important for targeted molecular genetic testing, prognosis and for counseling regarding recurrence risks. This review provides clinical and molecular information for several of the commonest syndromes associated with A/M: Anophthalmia-Esophageal-Genital syndrome, caused by SOX2 mutations, Anophthalmia and pituitary abnormalities caused by OTX2 mutations, Matthew-Wood syndrome caused by STRA6 mutations, oculofaciocardiodental syndrome and Lenz microphthalmia caused by BCOR mutations, Microphthalmia Linear Skin pigmentation syndrome caused by HCCS mutations, Anophthalmia, pituitary abnormalities, polysyndactyly caused by BMP4 mutations and Waardenburg anophthalmia caused by mutations in SMOC1. In addition, we briefly discuss the ocular and extraocular phenotypes associated with several other important eye developmental genes, including GDF6, VSX2, RAX, SHH, SIX6 and PAX6.
Project description:Purpose:The evolutionarily conserved retinal homeobox (Rax) transcription factor is essential for normal eye development in all vertebrates. Despite Rax's biologic significance, the molecular mechanisms underlying Rax molecular function as a transcriptional regulator are poorly defined. The rax gene encodes a conserved octapeptide motif (OP) near the N-terminus and several conserved regions in the C-terminus of unknown function, including the orthopedia, aristaless, rax (OAR) domain and the RX domain. The purpose of this study is to investigate the contribution of these conserved domains in Rax function. Methods:N-and C-terminal deletion and point mutations were generated in Xenopus laevis rax.L (previously known as Rx1A) using PCR-based methods. We examined the ability of mutated Rax to transactivate a reporter gene consisting of a portion of a rax target gene promoter (from the Xenopus rhodopsin gene) fused to a firefly luciferase coding region and transfected into human embryonic kidney 293T (HEK293T) cells. Portions of the Rax C-terminal region were also assayed for transactivation activity in the context of a heterologous DNA binding domain with an appropriate reporter gene. Results:Full-length Rax weakly activated the reporter. Deletion of the Rax C-terminus increased Rax activity, suggesting that the C-terminus functions to repress Rax activity. Further deletion eventually resulted in a decrease in activity, suggesting that the C-terminal region also can function to enhance Rax activity. Deletion or mutation of the OP motif resulted in a slight decrease in Rax activity. Mutation or deletion of the N-terminal OP motif resulted in a mild decrease in activity and dampened the activity levels of the C-terminal deletions. Further, fusion of the C-terminus of Rax to a heterologous DNA binding domain enhanced transactivation. Conclusions:The present data indicate that the C-terminus of Rax can function to repress or activate transcription in a context-dependent manner. These data support our hypothesis that the highly conserved OAR domain, in combination with other regulatory elements in the Rax C-terminus, coordinates Rax activity, perhaps through functional interaction with the N-terminal OP motif. Taken together, these data provide insight into the structural features that regulate Rax activity.
Project description:PURPOSE: Microphthalmia and anophthalmia are at the severe end of the spectrum of abnormalities in ocular development. A few genes (orthodenticle homeobox 2 [OTX2], retina and anterior neural fold homeobox [RAX], SRY-box 2 [SOX2], CEH10 homeodomain-containing homolog [CHX10], and growth differentiation factor 6 [GDF6]) have been implicated mainly in isolated micro/anophthalmia but causative mutations of these genes explain less than a quarter of these developmental defects. The essential role of the LIM homeobox 2 (LHX2) transcription factor in early eye development has recently been documented. We postulated that mutations in this gene could lead to micro/anophthalmia, and thus performed molecular screening of its sequence in patients having micro/anophthalmia. METHODS: Seventy patients having non-syndromic forms of colobomatous microphthalmia (n=25), isolated microphthalmia (n=18), or anophthalmia (n=17), and syndromic forms of micro/anophthalmia (n=10) were included in this study after negative molecular screening for OTX2, RAX, SOX2, and CHX10 mutations. Mutation screening of LHX2 was performed by direct sequencing of the coding sequences and intron/exon boundaries. RESULTS: Two heterozygous variants of unknown significance (c.128C>G [p.Pro43Arg]; c.776C>A [p.Pro259Gln]) were identified in LHX2 among the 70 patients. These variations were not identified in a panel of 100 control patients of mixed origins. The variation c.776C>A (p.Pro259Gln) was considered as non pathogenic by in silico analysis, while the variation c.128C>G (p.Pro43Arg) considered as deleterious by in silico analysis and was inherited from the asymptomatic father. CONCLUSIONS: Mutations in LHX2 do not represent a frequent cause of micro/anophthalmia.
Project description:Clinical evaluation and mutation analysis was performed in 51 consecutive probands with severe eye malformations - anophthalmia and/or severe microphthalmia - seen in a single specialist ophthalmology center. The mutation analysis consisted of bidirectional sequencing of the coding regions of SOX2, OTX2, PAX6 (paired domain), STRA6, BMP4, SMOC1, FOXE3, and RAX, and genome-wide array-based copy number assessment. Fifteen (29.4%) of the 51 probands had likely causative mutations affecting SOX2 (9/51), OTX2 (5/51), and STRA6 (1/51). Of the cases with bilateral anophthalmia, 9/12 (75%) were found to be mutation positive. Three of these mutations were large genomic deletions encompassing SOX2 (one case) or OTX2 (two cases). Familial inheritance of three intragenic, plausibly pathogenic, and heterozygous mutations was observed. An unaffected carrier parent of an affected child with an identified OTX2 mutation confirmed the previously reported nonpenetrance for this disorder. Two families with SOX2 mutations demonstrated a parent and child both with significant but highly variable eye malformations. Heterozygous loss-of-function mutations in SOX2 and OTX2 are the most common genetic pathology associated with severe eye malformations and bi-allelic loss-of-function in STRA6 is confirmed as an emerging cause of nonsyndromal eye malformations.
Project description:Rax is one of the key transcription factors crucial for vertebrate eye development. In this study, we conducted comprehensive evolutionary analysis of Rax. We found that Bilateria and Cnidaria possess Rax, but Placozoa, Porifera, and Ctenophora do not, implying that the origin of the Rax gene dates back to the common ancestor of Cnidaria and Bilateria. The results of molecular phylogenetic and synteny analyses on Rax loci between jawed and jawless vertebrates indicate that segmental duplication of the Rax locus occurred in an early common ancestor of jawed vertebrates, resulting in two Rax paralogs in jawed vertebrates, Rax and Rax2. By analyzing 86 mammalian genomes from all four major groups of mammals, we found that at least five independent Rax2 gene loss events occurred in mammals. This study may provide novel insights into the evolution of the eye.