The transcription factor PAX6 plays a critical, evolutionarily conserved role in eye, brain and olfactory development. Homozygous loss of PAX6 function affects all expressing tissues and is neonatally lethal; heterozygous null mutations cause aniridia in humans and the Small eye (Sey) phenotype in mice. Several upstream and intragenic PAX6 control elements have been defined, generally through transgenesis. However, aniridia cases with chromosomal rearrangements far downstream of an intact PAX6 gene suggested a requirement for additional cis-acting control for correct gene expression. The likely location of such elements is pinpointed through YAC transgenic studies. A 420 kb yeast artificial chromosome (YAC) clone, extending well beyond the most distant patient breakpoint, was previously shown to rescue homozygous Small eye lethality and correct the heterozygous eye phenotype. We now show that a 310 kb YAC clone, terminating just 5' of the breakpoint, fails to influence the Sey phenotypes. Using evolutionary sequence comparison, DNaseI hypersensitivity analysis and transgenic reporter studies, we have identified a region, >150 kb distal to the major PAX6 promoter P1, containing regulatory elements. Components of this downstream regulatory region drive reporter expression in distinct partial PAX6 patterns, indicating that the functional PAX6 gene domain extends far beyond the transcription unit.
|Number of pages||11|
|Journal||Human Molecular Genetics|
|Publication status||Published - 2001|