DLX homeobox transcriptional regulation of CRX and OTX2 gene expression during vertebrate retinal development
Pinto, Vanessa Indira
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DLX transcriptional targets have been implicated during retinal development. The Crx (Cone-Rod homeobox) gene is required for the differentiation and maintenance of cone and rod photoreceptors. Otx2 (Orthodenticle homeobox 2) is a key regulator of photoreceptor cell fate. The Dlx1/Dlx2 mutant mouse retina has a significant reduction of retinal ganglion cells with aberrant Crx expression in the neuroblastic layer and increased retinal Otx2 expression. We hypothesized that the Dlx homeobox genes directly repress Crx and Otx2 expression during retinal development. Expression of CRX demonstrates increased transcript and protein expression in the Dlx1/Dlx2 double knockout retina at E18.5, suggesting that these DLX transcription factors may repress CRX expression. OTX2 expression is increased in the Dlx1/Dlx2 knockout retina at E16.5 suggesting that DLX2 negatively regulates OTX2 expression. The Dlx1/Dlx2 knockout has aberrant and ectopic expression of CRX in the retina along with increased OTX2 expression. Our data suggests that both CRX and OTX2 are transcriptional targets directly repressed by the DLX1 and DLX2.