Analysis of Pax6 contiguous gene deletions in the mouse, Mus musculus, identifies regions distinct from Pax6 responsible for extreme small-eye and belly-spotting phenotypes

Genetics. 2009 Aug;182(4):1077-88. doi: 10.1534/genetics.109.104562. Epub 2009 May 27.


In the mouse Pax6 function is critical in a dose-dependent manner for proper eye development. Pax6 contiguous gene deletions were shown to be homozygous lethal at an early embryonic stage. Heterozygotes express belly spotting and extreme microphthalmia. The eye phenotype is more severe than in heterozygous Pax6 intragenic null mutants, raising the possibility that deletions are functionally different from intragenic null mutations or that a region distinct from Pax6 included in the deletions affects eye phenotype. We recovered and identified the exact regions deleted in three new Pax6 deletions. All are homozygous lethal at an early embryonic stage. None express belly spotting. One expresses extreme microphthalmia and two express the milder eye phenotype similar to Pax6 intragenic null mutants. Analysis of Pax6 expression levels and the major isoforms excluded the hypothesis that the deletions expressing extreme microphthalmia are directly due to the action of Pax6 and functionally different from intragenic null mutations. A region distinct from Pax6 containing eight genes was identified for belly spotting. A second region containing one gene (Rcn1) was identified for the extreme microphthalmia phenotype. Rcn1 is a Ca(+2)-binding protein, resident in the endoplasmic reticulum, participates in the secretory pathway and expressed in the eye. Our results suggest that deletion of Rcn1 directly or indirectly contributes to the eye phenotype in Pax6 contiguous gene deletions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Patterning / genetics
  • Calcium-Binding Proteins / genetics*
  • Calcium-Binding Proteins / physiology
  • Eye Abnormalities / genetics*
  • Eye Proteins / genetics*
  • Eye Proteins / physiology
  • Gene Deletion*
  • Genes, Lethal
  • Homeodomain Proteins / genetics*
  • Homeodomain Proteins / physiology
  • Mice
  • PAX6 Transcription Factor
  • Paired Box Transcription Factors / genetics*
  • Paired Box Transcription Factors / physiology
  • Phenotype
  • Repressor Proteins / genetics*
  • Repressor Proteins / physiology


  • Calcium-Binding Proteins
  • Eye Proteins
  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • PAX6 Transcription Factor
  • PAX6 protein, human
  • Paired Box Transcription Factors
  • Pax6 protein, mouse
  • RCN1 protein, mouse
  • Repressor Proteins