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Hum Mol Genet. 2004 Aug 1;13(15):1563-75. Epub 2004 Jun 9.

Photoreceptor-specific nuclear receptor NR2E3 functions as a transcriptional activator in rod photoreceptors.

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  • 1Neuroscience Graduate Program, Department of Opthalmology and Visual Sciences, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor 48105, USA.


NR2E3, a photoreceptor-specific orphan nuclear receptor, is believed to play a pivotal role in the differentiation of photoreceptors. Mutations in the human NR2E3 gene and its mouse ortholog are associated with enhanced S-cones and retinal degeneration. In order to gain insights into the NR2E3 function, we performed temporal and spatial expression analysis, yeast two-hybrid screening, promoter activity assays and co-immunoprecipitation studies. The Nr2e3 expression was localized preferentially to the rod, and not to the cone, photoreceptor nuclei in rodent retina. The yeast two-hybrid screening of a retinal cDNA library, using NR2E3 as the bait, identified another orphan nuclear receptor NR1D1 (Rev-erbalpha). The interaction of NR2E3 with NR1D1 was confirmed by glutathione S-transferase pulldown and co-immunoprecipitation experiments. In transient transfection studies using HEK 293 cells, both NR2E3 and NR1D1 activated the promoters of rod phototransduction genes synergistically with neural retina leucine zipper (NRL) and cone-rod homeobox (CRX). All four proteins, NR2E3, NR1D1, NRL and CRX, could be co-immunoprecipitated from the bovine retinal nuclear extract, suggesting their existence in a multi-protein transcriptional regulatory complex in vivo. Our results demonstrate that NR2E3 is involved in regulating the expression of rod photoreceptor-specific genes and support its proposed role in transcriptional regulatory network(s) during rod differentiation.

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