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Gene. 2016 Nov 15;593(1):76-83. doi: 10.1016/j.gene.2016.08.019. Epub 2016 Aug 9.

Expression of CXCL6 and BBS5 that may be glaucoma relevant genes is regulated by PITX2.

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Department of Medical Genetics, Faculty of Medical Sciences, Tarbiat Modares University, P.O. Box. 14115-331, Tehran, Iran.
Department of Medical Genetics, Faculty of Medical Sciences, Tarbiat Modares University, P.O. Box. 14115-331, Tehran, Iran. Electronic address:
Ophthalmic Research Center, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran.
School of Biology, College of Science, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran; Department of Biotechnology, College of Science, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran. Electronic address:


The transcription factor PITX2 is implicated in glaucoma pathology. In an earlier study we had used microarray analysis to identify genes in the trabecular meshwork (TM) that are affected by knock down of PITX2. Here, those studies were pursued to identify genes that are direct targets of PITX2 and that may be relevant to glaucoma. Initially, bioinformatics tools were used to select among the genes that had been affected by PITX2 knock down those that have PITX2 binding sites and that may be involved in glaucoma related functions. Subsequently, the effect of PITX2 was tested using the dual luciferase assay in four cell cultures including two primary TM cultures co-transfected with vectors containing promoter fragments of six candidate genes upstream of a luciferase gene and a vector that expressed PITX2. Finally, the effect of PITX2 on endogenous expression of two genes was assessed by over expression and knock down of PITX2 in TM cells. Thirty four genes were found to contain PITX2 binding sites in their putative promoter regions, and 16 were found to be associated with TM-specific and/or glaucoma associated functions. Results of dual luciferase assays confirmed that two of six genes tested were directly targeted by PITX2. The two genes were CXCL6 (chemokine (C-X-C motif) ligand 6) and BBS5 (Bardet-Biedl syndrome 5). Over expression and knock down of PITX2 showed that this transcription factor affects endogenous expression of these two genes in TM cells. CXCL6 encodes a pro-inflammatory cytokine, and many studies have suggested that cytokines and other immune system functions are involved in glaucoma pathogenesis. BBS5 is a member of the BBS family of genes that affect ciliary functions, and ciliary bodies in the anterior chamber of the eye produce the aqueous fluid that affects intraocular pressure. Immune related functions and intraocular pressure are both important components of glaucoma pathology. The role of PITX2 in glaucoma may be mediated partly by regulating the expression of CXCL6 and BBS5 and thus affecting immune functions and intraocular pressure.


Glaucoma; Intraocular pressure; PITX2; Trabecular meshwork

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