Differential CRX and OTX2 expression in human retina and retinoblastoma

J Neurochem. 2009 Oct;111(1):250-63. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-4159.2009.06322.x. Epub 2009 Aug 3.


The histogenesis of retinoblastoma tumors remains controversial, with the cell-of-origin variably proposed to be an uncommitted retinal progenitor cell, a bipotent committed cell, or a cell committed to a specific lineage. Here, we examine the expression of two members of the orthodenticle family implicated in photoreceptor and bipolar cell differentiation, cone-rod homeobox, CRX, and orthodenticle homeobox 2, OTX2, in normal human retina, retinoblastoma cell lines and retinoblastoma tumors. We show that CRX and OTX2 have distinct expression profiles in the developing human retina, with CRX first expressed in proliferating cells and cells committed to the bipolar lineage, and OTX2 first appearing in the photoreceptor lineage. In the mature retina, CRX levels are highest in photoreceptor cells whereas OTX2 is preferentially found in bipolar cells and in the retinal pigmented epithelium. Both CRX and OTX2 are widely expressed in retinoblastoma cell lines and in retinoblastoma tumors, although CRX is more abundant than OTX2 in the differentiated elements of retinoblastoma tumors such as large rosettes, Flexner-Wintersteiner rosettes and fleurettes. Widespread expression of CRX and OTX2 in retinoblastoma tumors and cell lines suggests a close link between the cell-of-origin of retinoblastoma tumors and cells expressing CRX and OTX2.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arrestin / metabolism
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Child, Preschool
  • Fetus
  • Gene Expression / physiology*
  • Glutamate Synthase / metabolism
  • Homeodomain Proteins / genetics
  • Homeodomain Proteins / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Ki-67 Antigen / metabolism
  • Otx Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Otx Transcription Factors / metabolism*
  • Protein Kinase C-alpha / metabolism
  • Retina / anatomy & histology
  • Retina / metabolism*
  • Retinal Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Retinal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Retinoblastoma / metabolism*
  • Retinoblastoma / pathology
  • Trans-Activators / genetics
  • Trans-Activators / metabolism*


  • Arrestin
  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • Ki-67 Antigen
  • OTX2 protein, human
  • Otx Transcription Factors
  • Trans-Activators
  • cone rod homeobox protein
  • Glutamate Synthase
  • Protein Kinase C-alpha

Grants and funding