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Mingzhe Cao, Jiamin Ouyang, Huilin Liang, Jingyi Guo, Siyuan Lin, Shulan Yang, Ting Xie, Shuyi Chen; Regional Gene Expression Profile Comparison Reveals the Unique Transcriptome of the Optic Fissure. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2018;59(15):5773-5784. doi: 10.1167/iovs.18-23962.
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The optic fissure (OF) is a transient opening in the ventral optic cup (OC) that acts as a passage for blood vessels and retinal ganglion cell axons during early eye development. Failure to close the OF is the developmental basis for uveal coloboma, a congenital blinding eye disease that significantly contributes to childhood blindness. Genes specifically expressed in the OF region may play important roles in OF development and function. The aim of this study was to characterize the transcriptome of OC cells in the OF region and investigate the function of OF-specific genes during OF closure.
Laser-assisted microdissection was used to collect different regions of OC tissues. Microarray analysis was used to obtain and compare gene expression profiles of different OC regions. RNA in situ hybridization (ISH) was used to further characterize OF-specific gene expression patterns. Morpholino knockdown in zebrafish was used to study the function of a newly discovered OF-specific gene during OF closure.
Microarray comparison revealed that the OC at the OF region exhibited a unique gene expression profile. OC expression patterns of a number of newly discovered OF-specific genes were confirmed by ISH. Morpholino knockdown and downstream target expression and function analysis demonstrated that afap1l2, a newly discovered OF-specific gene, controls OF closure by regulating pax2a expression.
Our study characterized the unique transcriptome of the OF region of the OC and demonstrated the essential role of a newly discovered OF-specific gene in OF closure. This study provides a valuable foundation for future mechanism dissection in OF development and physiology, and for human coloboma etiology exploration.
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