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Hum Mol Genet. 2012 Jun 15;21(12):2663-76. doi: 10.1093/hmg/dds091. Epub 2012 Mar 7.

Genetic ablation of Pals1 in retinal progenitor cells models the retinal pathology of Leber congenital amaurosis.

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Pediatric Research Center, Department of Pediatrics, University of Texas Health Science Center, Houston TX 77030, USA.


Mutation of the polarity gene Crumbs homolog 1 (CRB1) is responsible for >10% of Leber congenital amaurosis (LCA) cases worldwide; LCA is characterized by early-onset degenerative retinal dystrophy. The role of CRB1 in LCA8 pathogenesis remains elusive since Crb1 mouse mutants, including a null allele, have failed to mimic the early-onset of LCA, most likely due to functional compensation by closely related genes encoding Crb2 and Crb3. Crb proteins form an evolutionarily conserved, apical polarity complex with the scaffolding protein associated with lin-seven 1 (Pals1), also known as MAGUK p55 subfamily member 5 (MPP5). Pals1 and Crbs are functionally inter-dependent in establishing and maintaining epithelial polarity. Pals1 is a single gene in the mouse and human genomes; therefore, we ablated Pals1 to establish a mouse genetic model mimicking human LCA. In our study, the deletion of Pals1 leads to the disruption of the apical localization of Crb proteins in retinal progenitors and the adult retina, validating their mutual interaction. Remarkably, the Pals1 mutant mouse exhibits the critical features of LCA such as early visual impairment as assessed by electroretinogram, disorganization of lamination and apical junctions and retinal degeneration. Our data uncover the indispensible role of Pals1 in retinal development, likely involving the maintenance of retinal polarity and survival of retinal neurons, thus providing the basis for the pathologic mechanisms of LCA8.

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