Misexpression of the Emx-related homeobox genes cVax and mVax2 ventralizes the retina and perturbs the retinotectal map

Neuron. 1999 Nov;24(3):541-53. doi: 10.1016/s0896-6273(00)81111-3.


The mechanisms that establish the dorsal-ventral (D-V) axis of the eye are poorly understood. We isolated two homeobox genes from mouse and chicken, mVax2 and cVax, whose expression during early eye development is restricted to the ventral retina. In chick, ectopic expression of either Vax leads to ventralization of the early retina, as assayed by expression of the transcription factors Pax2 and Tbx5, and the Eph family members EphB2, EphB3, ephrinB1, and ephrinB2, all of which are normally dorsally or ventrally restricted. Moreover, the projections of dorsal but not ventral ganglion cell axons onto the optic tectum showed profound targeting errors following cVax misexpression. mVax2/cVax thus specify positional identity along the D-V axis of the retina and influence retinotectal mapping.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence / genetics
  • Animals
  • Avian Proteins*
  • Chick Embryo / physiology
  • Cloning, Molecular
  • Embryonic and Fetal Development / physiology
  • Eye / embryology
  • Gene Expression / physiology*
  • Genes, Homeobox / genetics*
  • Homeodomain Proteins / genetics*
  • Mice / embryology
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / metabolism
  • Receptor, EphB4
  • Receptors, Eph Family
  • Retina / embryology*
  • Superior Colliculi / embryology*
  • Transcription Factors
  • Visual Pathways / embryology*


  • Avian Proteins
  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • Transcription Factors
  • Vax protein, chicken
  • Vax2 protein, mouse
  • empty spiracles homeobox proteins
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases
  • Receptor, EphB4
  • Receptors, Eph Family

Associated data

  • GENBANK/AF117299