The homeobox gene Six3 is a potential regulator of anterior segment formation in the chick eye

Dev Biol. 2002 Aug 15;248(2):265-80. doi: 10.1006/dbio.2002.0732.


The anterior segment of the vertebrate eye consists of highly organized and specialized ocular tissues critical for normal vision. The periocular mesenchyme, originating from the neural crest, contributes extensively to the anterior segment. During chick eye morphogenesis, the homeobox gene Six3 is expressed in a subset of periocular mesenchymal cells and in differentiating anterior segment tissues. Retrovirus-mediated misexpression of Six3 causes eye anterior segment malformation, including corneal protrusion and opacification, ciliary body and iris hypoplasia, and trabecular meshwork dysgenesis. Histological and molecular marker analyses demonstrate that Six3 misexpression disrupts the integrity of the corneal endothelium and the expression of extracellular matrix components critical for corneal transparency. Six3 misexpression also leads to a reduction of the periocular mesenchymal cell population expressing Lmx1b, Pitx2, and Pax6, transcription factors critical for eye anterior segment morphogenesis. Moreover, elevated levels of Six3 attenuate proliferation of periocular mesenchymal cells in vitro and differentiating anterior segment tissues in vivo. These results suggest that, in addition to its function in eye primordium determination, Six3 plays a role in regulating the development of the vertebrate eye anterior segment.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blotting, Western
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Division
  • Chick Embryo
  • Cornea / cytology
  • Cornea / metabolism
  • Eye / embryology*
  • Eye / metabolism*
  • Eye Abnormalities / genetics
  • Eye Proteins
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Glaucoma
  • Homeodomain Proteins / genetics
  • Homeodomain Proteins / metabolism*
  • In Situ Hybridization
  • Mesoderm / cytology
  • Mesoderm / metabolism
  • Morphogenesis
  • Mutation
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / genetics
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / metabolism*
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction


  • Eye Proteins
  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Sine oculis homeobox homolog 3 protein