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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1995 May 9;92(10):4676-80.

Pax-6 is essential for lens-specific expression of zeta-crystallin.

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  • 1Section on Molecular Structure and Function, National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.


Pax-6 is essential for normal eye development and has been implicated as a "master gene" for lens formation in embryogenesis. Guinea pig zeta-crystallin, a taxon-specific enzyme crystallin, achieves high expression specifically in lens through use of an alternative promoter. Here we show that Pax-6 binds a site in this promoter, which is essential for lens-specific expression. Lens and lens-derived cells exhibit a tissue-specific pattern of alternative splicing of Pax-6 transcripts and Pax-6 is expressed in adult lenses and cells that support zeta-crystallin expression. These results suggest that zeta-crystallin is a natural target gene for Pax-6 and that this Pax family member has a direct role in the continuing expression of tissue-specific genes.

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