The effect of Rbfox2 modulation on retinal transcriptome and visual function

Sci Rep. 2020 Nov 12;10(1):19683. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-76879-5.


Rbfox proteins regulate alternative splicing, mRNA stability and translation. These proteins are involved in neurogenesis and have been associated with various neurological conditions. Here, we analyzed Rbfox2 expression in adult and developing mouse retinas and the effect of its downregulation on visual function and retinal transcriptome. In adult rodents, Rbfox2 is expressed in all retinal ganglion cell (RGC) subtypes, horizontal cells, as well as GABAergic amacrine cells (ACs). Among GABAergic AC subtypes, Rbfox2 was colocalized with cholinergic starburst ACs, NPY (neuropeptide Y)- and EBF1 (early B-cell factor 1)-positive ACs. In differentiating retinal cells, Rbfox2 expression was observed as early as E12 and, unlike Rbfox1, which changes its subcellular localization from cytoplasmic to predominantly nuclear at around P0, Rbfox2 remains nuclear throughout retinal development. Rbfox2 knockout in adult animals had no detectable effect on retinal gross morphology. However, the visual cliff test revealed a significant abnormality in the depth perception of Rbfox2-deficient animals. Gene set enrichment analysis identified genes regulating the RNA metabolic process as a top enriched class of genes in Rbfox2-deficient retinas. Pathway analysis of the top 100 differentially expressed genes has identified Rbfox2-regulated genes associated with circadian rhythm and entrainment, glutamatergic/cholinergic/dopaminergic synaptic function, calcium and PI3K-AKT signaling.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Circadian Rhythm
  • Depth Perception
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Pupil / physiology
  • RNA Splicing Factors / genetics
  • RNA Splicing Factors / metabolism*
  • RNA-Seq
  • Retina / growth & development
  • Retina / metabolism*
  • Transcriptome*
  • Vision, Ocular / physiology*


  • RNA Splicing Factors
  • Rbfox2 protein, mouse