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Mol Cell Biol. 2012 Apr;32(7):1296-311. doi: 10.1128/MCB.06016-11. Epub 2012 Jan 30.

Retina restored and brain abnormalities ameliorated by single-copy knock-in of human NR2E1 in null mice.

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Centre for Molecular Medicine and Therapeutics at the Child and Family Research Institute, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada.


Nr2e1 encodes a stem cell fate determinant of the mouse forebrain and retina. Abnormal regulation of this gene results in retinal, brain, and behavioral abnormalities in mice. However, little is known about the functionality of human NR2E1. We investigated this functionality using a novel knock-in humanized-mouse strain carrying a single-copy bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC). We also documented, for the first time, the expression pattern of the human BAC, using an NR2E1-lacZ reporter strain. Unexpectedly, cerebrum and olfactory bulb hypoplasia, hallmarks of the Nr2e1-null phenotype, were not fully corrected in animals harboring one functional copy of human NR2E1. These results correlated with an absence of NR2E1-lacZ reporter expression in the dorsal pallium of embryos and proliferative cells of adult brains. Surprisingly, retinal histology and electroretinograms demonstrated complete correction of the retina-null phenotype. These results correlated with appropriate expression of the NR2E1-lacZ reporter in developing and adult retina. We conclude that the human BAC contained all the elements allowing correction of the mouse-null phenotype in the retina, while missing key regulatory regions important for proper spatiotemporal brain expression. This is the first time a separation of regulatory mechanisms governing NR2E1 has been demonstrated. Furthermore, candidate genomic regions controlling expression in proliferating cells during neurogenesis were identified.

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