Gene regulation of multipotent neuroretinal progenitors is partially understood. Through characterizing Six3 and Six6 double knockout retinas (DKOs), we demonstrate Six3 and Six6 are jointly required for the maintenance of multipotent neuroretinal progenitors. Phenotypes in DKOs were not found in either Six3 nulls or Six6 nulls. At the far periphery, ciliary margin (CM) markers Otx1 and Cdon together with Wnt3a and Fzd1 were ectopically upregulated, whereas neuroretinal progenitor markers Sox2, Notch1, and Otx2 were absent or reduced. At the mid periphery, multi-lineage differentiation was defective. The gene set jointly regulated by Six3 and Six6 significantly overlapped with the gene networks regulated by WNT3A, CTNNB1, POU4F2, or SOX2. Stimulation of Wnt/β-catenin signaling by either Wnt-3a or a GS3Kβ inhibitor promoted CM progenitors at the cost of neuroretinal identity at the periphery of eyecups. Therefore, Six3 and Six6 together directly or indirectly suppress Wnt/β-catenin signaling but promote retinogenic factors for the maintenance of multipotent neuroretinal progenitors.
Keywords: Six3; Six6; Wnt/β-catenin signaling; cell differentiation; cell fate specification; ciliary margin progenitor; multipotent neuroretinal progenitor.
Copyright © 2018 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.