A crystallin gene network in the mouse retina

Exp Eye Res. 2013 Nov:116:129-40. doi: 10.1016/j.exer.2013.08.001. Epub 2013 Aug 24.


The present study was designed to examine the regulation of crystallin genes and protein in the mouse retina using the BXD recombinant inbred (RI) strains. Illumina Sentrix BeadChip Arrays (MouseWG-6v2) were used to analyze mRNA levels in 75 BXD RI strains along with the parental strains (C57Bl/6J and DBA/2J), and the reciprocal crosses in the Hamilton Eye Institute (HEI) Retina Dataset (www.genenetwork.org). Protein levels were investigated using immunoblots to quantify levels of proteins and indirect immunohistochemistry to define the distribution of protein. Algorithms in the Genomatix program were used to identify transcription factor binding sites common to the regulatory sequences in the 5' regions of co-regulated set of crystallin and other genes as compared to a set of control genes. As subset of genes, including many encoding lens crystallins is part of a tightly co-regulated network that is active in the retina. Expression of this crystallin network appears to be binary in nature, being expressed either at relatively low levels or being highly upregulated. Relative to a control set of genes, the 5' regulatory sequences of the crystallin network genes show an increased frequency of a set of common transcription factor-binding sites, the most common being those of the Maf family. Chromatin immunoprecipitation of human lens epithelial cells (HLEC) and rat retinal ganglion cells (RGC) confirmed the functionality of these sites, showing that MafA binds the predicted sites of CRYGA and CRYGD in HLE and CRYAB, CRYGA, CRYBA1, and CRYBB3 in RGC cells. In the retina there is a highly correlated group of genes containing many members of the α- β- and γ-crystallin families. These genes can be dramatically upregulated in the retina. One transcription factor that appears to be involved in this coordinated expression is the MAF family transcription of factors associated with both lens and extralenticular expression of crystallin genes.

Keywords: BXD strains; crystallin; promoter analysis; quantitative trait loci; transcription factor.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Crystallins / genetics*
  • Crystallins / metabolism
  • Gene Regulatory Networks
  • Humans
  • Immunoblotting
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics*
  • Retina / cytology
  • Retina / metabolism*
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcriptional Activation


  • Crystallins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Transcription Factors