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Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2003 Dec;44(12):5396-403.

The expression of the Leber congenital amaurosis protein AIPL1 coincides with rod and cone photoreceptor development.

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Department of Pathology, Institute of Ophthalmology, University College London, 11-43 Bath Street, London EC1V 9EL, United Kingdom.



The Leber congenital amaurosis (LCA) protein AIPL1 is present only in the rod photoreceptors of the adult human retina and is excluded from the cone photoreceptors. LCA, however, is characterized by an absence of both rod and cone function at birth or shortly thereafter. Therefore, this study was conducted to determine whether AIPL1 is present in the rod and cone photoreceptors of the developing human retina. In addition, the expression of NUB1, a putative AIPL1-interacting partner, was examined.


A comprehensive spatiotemporal examination of AIPL1 distribution during development was performed by immunohistochemistry, using a previously characterized AIPL1 anti-serum. Immunofluorescence confocal microscopy was used to examine the coexpression of AIPL1 with the long/medium (L/M) and short (S) wavelength-sensitive cone photoreceptors in the developing human retina. The spatiotemporal distribution of NUB1 was also examined by immunohistochemistry, using a newly developed anti-serum to the C terminus of NUB1.


AIPL1 protein was detected by 11.8 fetal weeks in the central fetal human retina. With continued development, AIPL1 expression spread gradually toward peripheral retina. AIPL1 was expressed in the L/M and S cone photoreceptors in addition to the rods of the developing human retina. NUB1 was localized in cell nuclei throughout the human fetal and adult eye at all time points.


The pattern of AIPL1 expression closely follows the centroperipheral gradient in photoreceptor development. The data suggest that AIPL1 is essential for the normal development of both rod and cone photoreceptor cells and that mutations in the AIPL1 gene cause the death or dysfunction of photoreceptors early in development resulting in blindness or severely impaired vision at birth.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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