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Genes Dev. 1998 Mar 15;12(6):776-81.

Sox1 directly regulates the gamma-crystallin genes and is essential for lens development in mice.

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  • 1Laboratory of Embryology, Medical Research Council (MRC) Clinical Sciences Centre, Hammersmith Hospital, London W12 0NN, UK.


gamma-Crystallins are major structural components of the lens fiber cells in amphibians and mammals. Many dominant inherited cataracts in humans and mice have been shown to map within the gamma-crystallin gene cluster. Several transcription factors, including PAX6 and SOX proteins, have been suggested as candidates for crystallin gene regulation. Here we show that the targeted deletion of Sox1 in mice causes microphthalmia and cataract. Mutant lens fiber cells fail to elongate, probably as a result of an almost complete absence of gamma-crystallins. It appears that the direct interaction of the SOX1 protein with a promoter element conserved in all gamma-crystallin genes is responsible for their expression.

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