Sox11 is required to maintain proper levels of Hedgehog signaling during vertebrate ocular morphogenesis.
ABSTRACT: Ocular coloboma is a sight-threatening malformation caused by failure of the choroid fissure to close during morphogenesis of the eye, and is frequently associated with additional anomalies, including microphthalmia and cataracts. Although Hedgehog signaling is known to play a critical role in choroid fissure closure, genetic regulation of this pathway remains poorly understood. Here, we show that the transcription factor Sox11 is required to maintain specific levels of Hedgehog signaling during ocular development. Sox11-deficient zebrafish embryos displayed delayed and abnormal lens formation, coloboma, and a specific reduction in rod photoreceptors, all of which could be rescued by treatment with the Hedgehog pathway inhibitor cyclopamine. We further demonstrate that the elevated Hedgehog signaling in Sox11-deficient zebrafish was caused by a large increase in shha transcription; indeed, suppressing Shha expression rescued the ocular phenotypes of sox11 morphants. Conversely, over-expression of sox11 induced cyclopia, a phenotype consistent with reduced levels of Sonic hedgehog. We screened DNA samples from 79 patients with microphthalmia, anophthalmia, or coloboma (MAC) and identified two novel heterozygous SOX11 variants in individuals with coloboma. In contrast to wild type human SOX11 mRNA, mRNA containing either variant failed to rescue the lens and coloboma phenotypes of Sox11-deficient zebrafish, and both exhibited significantly reduced transactivation ability in a luciferase reporter assay. Moreover, decreased gene dosage from a segmental deletion encompassing the SOX11 locus resulted in microphthalmia and related ocular phenotypes. Therefore, our study reveals a novel role for Sox11 in controlling Hedgehog signaling, and suggests that SOX11 variants contribute to pediatric eye disorders.
Project description:SoxC transcription factors play critical roles in many developmental processes, including neurogenesis, cardiac formation, and skeletal differentiation. In vitro and in vivo loss-of-function studies have suggested that SoxC genes are required for oculogenesis; however the mechanism was poorly understood. Here, we have explored the function of the SoxC factor Sox4 during zebrafish eye development. We show that sox4a and sox4b are expressed in the forebrain and periocular mesenchyme adjacent to the optic stalk during early eye development. Knockdown of sox4 in zebrafish resulted in coloboma, a structural malformation of the eye that is a significant cause of pediatric visual impairment in humans, in which the choroid fissure fails to close. Sox4 morphants displayed altered proximo-distal patterning of the optic vesicle, including expanded pax2 expression in the optic stalk, as well as ectopic cell proliferation in the retina. We show that the abnormal ocular morphogenesis observed in Sox4-deficient zebrafish is caused by elevated Hedgehog (Hh) signaling, and this is due to increased expression of the Hh pathway ligand Indian Hedgehog b (ihhb). Consistent with these results, coloboma in sox4 morphants could be rescued by pharmacological treatment with the Hh inhibitor cyclopamine, or by co-knockdown of ihhb. Conversely, overexpression of sox4 reduced Hh signaling and ihhb expression, resulting in cyclopia. Finally, we demonstrate that sox4 and sox11 have overlapping, but not completely redundant, functions in regulating ocular morphogenesis. Taken together, our data demonstrate that Sox4 is required to limit the extent of Hh signaling during eye development, and suggest that mutations in SoxC factors could contribute to the development of coloboma.
Project description:Ocular coloboma is caused by failure of optic fissure closure during development and recognized as part of the microphthalmia, anophthalmia, and coloboma (MAC) spectrum. While many genes are known to cause colobomatous microphthalmia, relatively few have been reported in coloboma with normal eye size. Genetic analysis including trio exome sequencing and Sanger sequencing was undertaken in a family with two siblings affected with bilateral coloboma of the iris, retina, and choroid. Pathogenic variants in MAC genes were excluded. Trio analysis identified compound heterozygous donor splice site variants in CDON, a cell-surface receptor known to function in the Sonic Hedgehog pathway, c.928 + 1G > A and c.2650 + 1G > T, in both affected individuals. Heterozygous missense and truncating CDON variants are associated with dominant holoprosencephaly (HPE) with incomplete penetrance and Cdon-/- mice display variable HPE and coloboma. A homozygous nonsense allele of uncertain significance was recently identified in a consanguineous patient with coloboma and a second molecular diagnosis. We report the first compound heterozygous variants in CDON as a cause of isolated coloboma. CDON is the first HPE gene identified to cause recessive coloboma. Given the phenotypic overlap, further examination of HPE genes in coloboma is indicated.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Mutations in MAB21L2 result in severe ocular defects including microphthalmia, anophthalmia, coloboma, microcornea, and cataracts. The molecular and cellular underpinnings of these defects are unknown, as is the normal cellular function of MAB21L2. Zebrafish mab21l2 au10 mutants possess ocular defects resembling those in humans with MAB21L2 mutations, providing an excellent model to characterize mab21l2 functions during eye development. RESULTS:mab21l2 -/- mutants possessed a host of ocular defects including microphthalmia and colobomas as well as small, disorganized lenses and cornea dysgenesis. Decreased proliferation, increased cell death, and defects in marker gene expression were detected in the lens. Cell death in the optic stalk was elevated in mab21l2 -/- mutants and the basement membrane between the edges of the choroid fissure failed to break down. Neuronal differentiation in the retina was normal, however. mab21l2 -/- mutant corneas were disorganized, possessed an increased number of cells, some of which proliferated ectopically, and failed to differentiate the corneal stroma. CONCLUSIONS:mab21l2 function is required for morphogenesis and cell survival in the lens and optic cup, and basement membrane breakdown in the choroid fissure. mab21l2 function also regulates proliferation in the lens and cornea; in its absence, the lens is small and mispatterned, and corneal morphogenesis and patterning are also disrupted.
Project description:Optic fissure closure defects result in uveal coloboma, a potentially blinding condition affecting between 0.5 and 2.6 per 10,000 births that may cause up to 10% of childhood blindness. Uveal coloboma is on a phenotypic continuum with microphthalmia (small eye) and anophthalmia (primordial/no ocular tissue), the so-called MAC spectrum. This review gives a brief overview of the developmental biology behind coloboma and its clinical presentation/spectrum. Special attention will be given to two prominent, syndromic forms of coloboma, namely, CHARGE (Coloboma, Heart defect, Atresia choanae, Retarded growth and development, Genital hypoplasia, and Ear anomalies/deafness) and COACH (Cerebellar vermis hypoplasia, Oligophrenia, Ataxia, Coloboma, and Hepatic fibrosis) syndromes. Approaches employed to identify genes involved in optic fissure closure in animal models and recent advances in live imaging of zebrafish eye development are also discussed.
Project description:Ocular coloboma is a developmental structural defect of the eye that often occurs as complex ocular anomalies. However, its genetic etiology remains largely unexplored. Here we report the identification of mutation (c.331C>T, p.R111C) in the IPO13 gene in a consanguineous family with ocular coloboma, microphthalmia, and cataract by a combination of whole-exome sequencing and homozygosity mapping. IPO13 encodes an importin-B family protein and has been proven to be associated with the pathogenesis of coloboma and microphthalmia. We found that Ipo13 was expressed in the cornea, sclera, lens, and retina in mice. Additionally, the mRNA expression level of Ipo13 decreased significantly in the patient compared with its expression in a healthy individual. Morpholino-oligonucleotide-induced knockdown of ipo13 in zebrafish caused dose-dependent microphthalmia and coloboma, which is highly similar to the ocular phenotypes in the patient. Moreover, both visual motor response and optokinetic response were impaired severely. Notably, these ocular phenotypes in ipo13-deficient zebrafish could be rescued remarkably by full-length ipo13 mRNA, suggesting that the phenotypes observed in zebrafish were due to insufficient ipo13 function. Altogether, our findings demonstrate, for the first time, a new role of IPO13 in eye morphogenesis and that loss of function of IPO13 could lead to ocular coloboma, microphthalmia, and cataract in humans and zebrafish.
Project description:Ocular coloboma is a common eye malformation resulting from incomplete fusion of the optic fissure during development. Coloboma is often associated with microphthalmia and/or contralateral anophthalmia. Coloboma shows extensive locus heterogeneity associated with causative mutations identified in genes encoding developmental transcription factors or components of signaling pathways. We report an ultra-rare, heterozygous frameshift mutation in FZD5 (p.Ala219Glufs*49) that was identified independently in two branches of a large family with autosomal dominant non-syndromic coloboma. FZD5 has a single-coding exon and consequently a transcript with this frameshift variant is not a canonical substrate for nonsense-mediated decay. FZD5 encodes a transmembrane receptor with a conserved extracellular cysteine rich domain for ligand binding. The frameshift mutation results in the production of a truncated protein, which retains the Wingless-type MMTV integration site family member-ligand-binding domain, but lacks the transmembrane domain. The truncated protein was secreted from cells, and behaved as a dominant-negative FZD5 receptor, antagonizing both canonical and non-canonical WNT signaling. Expression of the resultant mutant protein caused coloboma and microphthalmia in zebrafish, and disruption of the apical junction of the retinal neural epithelium in mouse, mimicking the phenotype of Fz5/Fz8 compound conditional knockout mutants. Our studies have revealed a conserved role of Wnt-Frizzled (FZD) signaling in ocular development and directly implicate WNT-FZD signaling both in normal closure of the human optic fissure and pathogenesis of coloboma.
Project description:Retinoic acid receptor (RAR) signaling is required for morphogenesis of the ventral optic cup and closure of the choroid fissure, but the mechanisms by which this pathway regulates ventral eye development remain controversial and poorly understood. Although previous studies have implicated neural crest-derived periocular mesenchyme (POM) as the critical target of RA action in the eye, we show here that RAR signaling regulates choroid fissure closure in zebrafish by acting on both the ventral optic cup and the POM. We describe RAR-dependent regulation of eight genes in the neuroepithelial cells of the ventral retina and optic stalk and of six genes in the POM and show that these ventral retina/optic stalk and POM genes function independently of each other. Consequently, RAR signaling regulates ventral eye development through two independent, nonredundant mechanisms in different ocular tissues. Furthermore, the identification of two cohorts of genes implicated in ventral eye morphogenesis may help to elucidate the genetic basis of ocular coloboma in humans.
Project description:The eye primordium arises as a lateral outgrowth of the forebrain, with a transient fissure on the inferior side of the optic cup providing an entry point for developing blood vessels. Incomplete closure of the inferior ocular fissure results in coloboma, a disease characterized by gaps in the inferior eye and recognized as a significant cause of pediatric blindness. Here, we identify eight patients with defects in tissues of the superior eye, a congenital disorder that we term superior coloboma. The embryonic origin of superior coloboma could not be explained by conventional models of eye development, leading us to reanalyze morphogenesis of the dorsal eye. Our studies revealed the presence of the superior ocular sulcus (SOS), a transient division of the dorsal eye conserved across fish, chick, and mouse. Exome sequencing of superior coloboma patients identified rare variants in a Bone Morphogenetic Protein (Bmp) receptor (BMPR1A) and T-box transcription factor (TBX2). Consistent with this, we find sulcus closure defects in zebrafish lacking Bmp signaling or Tbx2b. In addition, loss of dorsal ocular Bmp is rescued by concomitant suppression of the ventral-specific Hedgehog pathway, arguing that sulcus closure is dependent on dorsal-ventral eye patterning cues. The superior ocular sulcus acts as a conduit for blood vessels, with altered sulcus closure resulting in inappropriate connections between the hyaloid and superficial vascular systems. Together, our findings explain the existence of superior coloboma, a congenital ocular anomaly resulting from aberrant morphogenesis of a developmental structure.
Project description:Ocular coloboma is a developmental defect of the eye and is due to abnormal or incomplete closure of the optic fissure. This disorder displays genetic and clinical heterogeneity. Using a positional cloning approach, we identified a mutation in the ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporter ABCB6 in a Chinese family affected by autosomal-dominant coloboma. The Leu811Val mutation was identified in seven affected members of the family and was absent in six unaffected members from three generations. A LOD score of 3.2 at ? = 0 was calculated for the mutation identified in this family. Sequence analysis was performed on the ABCB6 exons from 116 sporadic cases of microphthalmia with coloboma (MAC), isolated coloboma, and aniridia, and an additional mutation (A57T) was identified in three patients with MAC. These two mutations were not present in the ethnically matched control populations. Immunostaining of transiently transfected, Myc-tagged ABCB6 in retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells showed that it localized to the endoplasmic reticulum and Golgi apparatus of RPE cells. RT-PCR of ABCB6 mRNA in human cell lines and tissue indicated that ABCB6 is expressed in the retinae and RPE cells. Using zebrafish, we show that abcb6 is expressed in the eye and CNS. Morpholino knockdown of abcb6 in zebrafish produces a phenotype characteristic of coloboma and replicates the clinical phenotype observed in our index cases. The knockdown phenotype can be corrected with coinjection of the wild-type, but not mutant, ABCB6 mRNA, suggesting that the phenotypes observed in zebrafish are due to insufficient abcb6 function. Our results demonstrate that ABCB6 mutations cause ocular coloboma.
Project description:Defects in optic fissure closure can lead to congenital ocular coloboma. This ocular malformation, often associated with microphthalmia, is described in various clinical forms with different inheritance patterns and genetic heterogeneity. In recent times, the identification of an increased number of genes involved in numerous cellular functions has led to a better understanding in optic fissure closure mechanisms. Nevertheless, most of these genes are also involved in wider eye growth defects such as micro-anophthalmia, questioning the mechanisms controlling both extension and severity of optic fissure closure defects. However, some genes, such as FZD5, have only been so far identified in isolated coloboma. Thus, to estimate the frequency of implication of different ocular genes, we screened a cohort of 50 patients affected by ocular coloboma by using targeted sequencing of 119 genes involved in ocular development. This analysis revealed seven heterozygous (likely) pathogenic variants in RARB, MAB21L2, RBP4, TFAP2A, and FZD5. Surprisingly, three out of the seven variants detected herein were novel disease-causing variants in FZD5 identified in three unrelated families with dominant inheritance. Although molecular diagnosis rate remains relatively low in patients with ocular coloboma (14% (7/50) in this work), these results, however, highlight the importance of genetic screening, especially of FZD5, in such patients. Indeed, in our series, FZD5 variants represent half of the genetic causes, constituting 6% (3/50) of the patients who benefited from a molecular diagnosis. Our findings support the involvement of FZD5 in ocular coloboma and provide clues for screening this gene during current diagnostic procedures.