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Genes Dev. 2002 Aug 15;16(16):2097-107.

Meis homeoproteins directly regulate Pax6 during vertebrate lens morphogenesis.

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  • 1Division of Genetics, Department of Medicine, Brigham & Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.


Pax6 is a pivotal regulator of eye development throughout Metazoa, but the direct upstream regulators of vertebrate Pax6 expression are unknown. In vertebrates, Pax6 is required for formation of the lens placode, an ectodermal thickening that precedes lens development. Here we show that the Meis1 and Meis2 homeoproteins are direct regulators of Pax6 expression in prospective lens ectoderm. In mice, Meis1 and Meis2 are developmentally expressed in a pattern remarkably similar to Pax6 and their expression is Pax6-independent. Biochemical and transgenic experiments reveal that Meis1 and Meis2 bind a specific sequence in the Pax6 lens placode enhancer that is required for its activity. Furthermore, Pax6 and Meis2 exhibit a strong genetic interaction in lens development, and Pax6 expression is elevated in lenses of Meis2-overexpressing transgenic mice. When expressed in embryonic lens ectoderm, dominant-negative forms of Meis down-regulate endogenous Pax6. These results contrast with those in Drosophila, where the single Meis homolog, Homothorax, has been shown to negatively regulate eye formation. Therefore, despite the striking evolutionary conservation of Pax6 function, Pax6 expression in the vertebrate lens is uniquely regulated.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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