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Hum Mol Genet. 2019 Mar 1;28(5):804-817. doi: 10.1093/hmg/ddy388.

Targeted deletion of an NRL- and CRX-regulated alternative promoter specifically silences FERM and PDZ domain containing 1 (Frmpd1) in rod photoreceptors.

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Neurobiology, Neurodegeneration and Repair Laboratory, National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA.
Nuffield Laboratory of Ophthalmology, Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences, University of Oxford, Oxford OX3 9DU, UK.
Genetic Engineering Core, National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA.


Regulation of cell type-specific gene expression is critical for generating neuronal diversity. Transcriptome analyses have unraveled extensive heterogeneity of transcribed sequences in retinal photoreceptors because of alternate splicing and/or promoter usage. Here we show that Frmpd1 (FERM and PDZ domain containing 1) is transcribed from an alternative promoter specifically in the retina. Electroporation of Frmpd1 promoter region, -505 to +382 bp, activated reporter gene expression in mouse retina in vivo. A proximal promoter sequence (-8 to +33 bp) of Frmpd1 binds to neural retina leucine zipper (NRL) and cone-rod homeobox protein (CRX), two rod-specific differentiation factors, and is necessary for activating reporter gene expression in vitro and in vivo. Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats/Cas9-mediated deletion of the genomic region, including NRL and CRX binding sites, in vivo completely eliminated Frmpd1 expression in rods and dramatically reduced expression in rod bipolar cells, thereby overcoming embryonic lethality caused by germline Frmpd1 deletion. Our studies demonstrate that a cell type-specific regulatory control region is a credible target for creating loss-of-function alleles of widely expressed genes.


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