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Development. 2002 Feb;129(3):797-804.

The homeodomain protein Vax2 patterns the dorsoventral and nasotemporal axes of the eye.

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Molecular Neurobiology Laboratory, The Salk Institute, La Jolla, CA 92037 USA.


The vertebrate retina is highly ordered along both its dorsoventral (DV) and nasotemporal (NT) axes, and this order is topographically maintained in its axonal connections to the superior colliculus of the midbrain. Although the graded axon guidance cues that mediate the topographic mapping of retinocollicular connections are increasingly well understood, the transcriptional regulators that set the DV and NT gradients of these cues are not. We now provide genetic evidence that Vax2, a homeodomain protein expressed in the ventral retina, is one such regulator. We demonstrate that in Vax2 mutant mice, retinocollicular projections from the ventral temporal retina are dorsalized relative to wild type. Remarkably, however, this dorsalization becomes systematically less severe in progressively more nasal regions of the ventral retina. Vax2 mutants also exhibit flattened DV and NT gradients of the EphA5, EphB2, EphB3, ephrin-B1 and ephrin-B2 axon guidance cues. Together, these data identify Vax2 as a fundamental regulator of axial polarization in the mammalian retina.

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