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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010 Jun 22;107(25):11579-84. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1000102107. Epub 2010 Jun 4.

The orphan nuclear hormone receptor ERRbeta controls rod photoreceptor survival.

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  • 1Department of Neuroscience, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD 21287, USA.


Mutation of rod photoreceptor-enriched transcription factors is a major cause of inherited blindness. We identified the orphan nuclear hormone receptor estrogen-related receptor beta (ERRbeta) as selectively expressed in rod photoreceptors. Overexpression of ERRbeta induces expression of rod-specific genes in retinas of wild-type as well as Nrl(-/-) mice, which lack rod photoreceptors. Mutation of ERRbeta results in dysfunction and degeneration of rods, whereas inverse agonists of ERRbeta trigger rapid rod degeneration, which is rescued by constitutively active mutants of ERRbeta. ERRbeta coordinates expression of multiple genes that are rate-limiting regulators of ATP generation and consumption in photoreceptors. Furthermore, enhancing ERRbeta activity rescues photoreceptor defects that result from loss of the photoreceptor-specific transcription factor Crx. Our findings demonstrate that ERRbeta is a critical regulator of rod photoreceptor function and survival, and suggest that ERRbeta agonists may be useful in the treatment of certain retinal dystrophies.

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