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Development. 2014 Mar;141(6):1292-302. doi: 10.1242/dev.098822. Epub 2014 Feb 12.

Stage-dependent requirement of neuroretinal Pax6 for lens and retina development.

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Institute of Molecular Genetics, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Videnska 1083, 14420 Prague 4, Czech Republic.


The physical contact of optic vesicle with head surface ectoderm is an initial event triggering eye morphogenesis. This interaction leads to lens specification followed by coordinated invagination of the lens placode and optic vesicle, resulting in formation of the lens, retina and retinal pigmented epithelium. Although the role of Pax6 in early lens development has been well documented, its role in optic vesicle neuroepithelium and early retinal progenitors is poorly understood. Here we show that conditional inactivation of Pax6 at distinct time points of mouse neuroretina development has a different impact on early eye morphogenesis. When Pax6 is eliminated in the retina at E10.5 using an mRx-Cre transgene, after a sufficient contact between the optic vesicle and surface ectoderm has occurred, the lens develops normally but the pool of retinal progenitor cells gradually fails to expand. Furthermore, a normal differentiation program is not initiated, leading to almost complete disappearance of the retina after birth. By contrast, when Pax6 was inactivated at the onset of contact between the optic vesicle and surface ectoderm in Pax6(Sey/flox) embryos, expression of lens-specific genes was not initiated and neither the lens nor the retina formed. Our data show that Pax6 in the optic vesicle is important not only for proper retina development, but also for lens formation in a non-cell-autonomous manner.


Lens induction; Pax6; Retinal progenitor; mRx-Cre

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