Timing of interphotoreceptor retinoid-binding protein (IRBP) gene expression and hypomethylation in developing mouse retina

Dev Biol. 1994 Feb;161(2):345-56. doi: 10.1006/dbio.1994.1036.


We determined during photoreceptor development if there is a retina-specific hypomethylation of the mouse gene encoding interphotoreceptor retinoid-binding protein (IRBP) that is associated with its activation. Second, the role of IRBP gene and protein expression in development was assessed by determining if their expression occurs before that of opsin. Retina-specific hypomethylation of the IRBP promoter region started on Embryonic (E) Day 11, at the time of cone formation, increased from E12 to E14, at the time of rod formation, and reached a peak on Postnatal (P) Day 4, which was followed thereafter by a slow decrease. Starting on E11, IRBP and opsin mRNA levels were quantitated relative to that of the beta-actin gene with RNase protection analysis. beta-Actin and IRBP transcripts were readily detected on E11. beta-actin levels remained constant during embryonic and early postnatal stages and decreased slightly afterward. On the other hand, beginning on E13, when the rods are formed, the IRBP level markedly increased. In contrast, the opsin transcript first appeared later on P0 and then increased from P3 onward. After P6, the opsin and IRBP transcript levels became comparable and by P20 their levels reached constancy. The timing of the onset of protein expression for the IRBP and opsin genes was determined during the last proliferative cycle of the rod precursor cells before their differentiation. Mice at P2 or P3 were injected with bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU) and their retinal cells were dissociated and then double-labeled with antibodies against BrdU and either IRBP or opsin. Cells positive for both IRBP and BrdU were always observed as soon as 2 hr after injection but it took at least 40 hr before they became positive for both opsin and BrdU. Taken together, these results indicate that IRBP gene activation is associated with hypomethylation during the last mitosis before photoreceptor cell differentiation.

Publication types

  • Duplicate Publication
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Cycle
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Eye Proteins / genetics*
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Methylation
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Pregnancy
  • Retina / embryology*
  • Retina / metabolism
  • Retinol-Binding Proteins / genetics*
  • Retinol-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Rod Opsins / genetics
  • Transcriptional Activation


  • Eye Proteins
  • Retinol-Binding Proteins
  • Rod Opsins
  • interstitial retinol-binding protein