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1.  Rax Homeoprotein Regulates Photoreceptor Cell Maturation and Survival in Association with Crx in the Postnatal Mouse Retina 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2015;35(15):2583-2596.
The Rax homeobox gene plays essential roles in multiple processes of vertebrate retina development. Many vertebrate species possess Rax and Rax2 genes, and different functions have been suggested. In contrast, mice contain a single Rax gene, and its functional roles in late retinal development are still unclear. To clarify mouse Rax function in postnatal photoreceptor development and maintenance, we generated conditional knockout mice in which Rax in maturing or mature photoreceptor cells was inactivated by tamoxifen treatment (Rax iCKO mice). When Rax was inactivated in postnatal Rax iCKO mice, developing photoreceptor cells showed a significant decrease in the level of the expression of rod and cone photoreceptor genes and mature adult photoreceptors exhibited a specific decrease in cone cell numbers. In luciferase assays, we found that Rax and Crx cooperatively transactivate Rhodopsin and cone opsin promoters and that an optimum Rax expression level to transactivate photoreceptor gene expression exists. Furthermore, Rax and Crx colocalized in maturing photoreceptor cells, and their coimmunoprecipitation was observed in cultured cells. Taken together, these results suggest that Rax plays essential roles in the maturation of both cones and rods and in the survival of cones by regulating photoreceptor gene expression with Crx in the postnatal mouse retina.
PMCID: PMC4524118  PMID: 25986607
2.  Obif, a Transmembrane Protein, Is Required for Bone Mineralization and Spermatogenesis in Mice 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(7):e0133704.
Various kinds of transmembrane and secreted proteins play pivotal roles in development through cell-cell communication. We previously reported that Obif (Osteoblast induction factor, Tmem119), encoding a single transmembrane protein, is expressed in differentiating osteoblasts, and that Obif−/− mice exhibit significantly reduced bone volume in the femur. In the current study, we characterized the Obif protein and further investigated the biological phenotypes of a variety of tissues in Obif−/− mice.
First, we found that O-glycosylation of the Obif protein occurs at serine residue 36 in the Obif extracellular domain. Next, we observed that Obif−/− mice exhibit bone dysplasia in association with significantly increased osteoid volume per osteoid surface (OV/OS) and osteoid maturation time (Omt), and significantly decreased mineral apposition rate (MAR) and bone formation rate per bone surface (BFR/BS). In addition, we observed that Obif−/− mice show a significant decrease in testis weight as well as in sperm number. By histological analysis, we found that Obif is expressed in spermatocytes and spermatids in the developing testis and that spermatogenesis is halted at the round spermatid stage in the Obif−/− testis that lacks sperm. However, the number of litters fathered by male mice was slightly reduced in Obif−/− mice compared with wild-type mice, although this was not statistically significant.
Our results, taken together with previous observations, indicate that Obif is a type Ia transmembrane protein whose N-terminal region is O-glycosylated. In addition, we found that Obif is required for normal bone mineralization and late testicular differentiation in vivo. These findings suggest that Obif plays essential roles in the development of multiple tissues.
PMCID: PMC4514473  PMID: 26207632
3.  Pikachurin Protein Required for Increase of Cone Electroretinogram B-Wave during Light Adaptation 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(6):e0128921.
In normal eyes, the amplitude of the b-wave of the photopic ERGs increases during light adaptation, but the mechanism causing this increase has not been fully determined. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the contribution of receptoral and post-receptoral components of the retina to this phenomenon. To accomplish this, we examined the ERGs during light adaptation in Pikachurin null-mutant (Pika -/-) mice, which have a misalignment of the bipolar cell dendritic tips to the photoreceptor ribbon synapses. After dark-adaptation, photopic ERGs were recorded from Pika -/- and wild type (WT) mice during the first 9 minutes of light adaptation. In some of the mice, post-receptoral components were blocked pharmacologically. The photopic b-waves of WT mice increased by 50% during the 9 min of light adaptation as previously reported. On the other hand, the b-waves of the Pika -/- mice decreased by 20% during the same time period. After blocking post-receptoral components, the b-waves were abolished from the WT mice, and the ERGs resembled those of the Pika -/- mice. The extracted post-receptoral component increased during light adaptation in the WT mice, but decreased for the first 3 minutes to a plateau in Pika -/- mice. We conclude that the normal synaptic connection between photoreceptor and retinal ON bipolar cells, which is controlled by pikachurin, is required for the ERGs to increase during light-adaptation. The contributions of post-receptoral components are essential for the photopic b-wave increase during the light adaptation.
PMCID: PMC4475018  PMID: 26091521
4.  Identification of G Protein-Coupled Receptors (GPCRs) in Primary Cilia and Their Possible Involvement in Body Weight Control 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(6):e0128422.
Primary cilia are sensory organelles that harbor various receptors such as G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs). We analyzed subcellular localization of 138 non-odorant GPCRs. We transfected GPCR expression vectors into NIH3T3 cells, induced ciliogenesis by serum starvation, and observed subcellular localization of GPCRs by immunofluorescent staining. We found that several GPCRs whose ligands are involved in feeding behavior, including prolactin-releasing hormone receptor (PRLHR), neuropeptide FF receptor 1 (NPFFR1), and neuromedin U receptor 1 (NMUR1), localized to the primary cilia. In addition, we found that a short form of dopamine receptor D2 (DRD2S) is efficiently transported to the primary cilia, while a long form of dopamine receptor D2 (DRD2L) is rarely transported to the primary cilia. Using an anti-Prlhr antibody, we found that Prlhr localized to the cilia on the surface of the third ventricle in the vicinity of the hypothalamic periventricular nucleus. We generated the Npy2r-Cre transgenic mouse line in which Cre-recombinase is expressed under the control of the promoter of Npy2r encoding a ciliary GPCR. By mating Npy2r-Cre mice with Ift80 flox mice, we generated Ift80 conditional knockout (CKO) mice in which Npy2r-positive cilia were diminished in number. We found that Ift80 CKO mice exhibited a body weight increase. Our results suggest that Npy2r-positive cilia are important for body weight control.
PMCID: PMC4459993  PMID: 26053317
5.  Role of the Mouse Retinal Photoreceptor Ribbon Synapse in Visual Motion Processing for Optokinetic Responses 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(5):e0124132.
The ribbon synapse is a specialized synaptic structure in the retinal outer plexiform layer where visual signals are transmitted from photoreceptors to the bipolar and horizontal cells. This structure is considered important in high-efficiency signal transmission; however, its role in visual signal processing is unclear. In order to understand its role in visual processing, the present study utilized Pikachurin-null mutant mice that show improper formation of the photoreceptor ribbon synapse. We examined the initial and late phases of the optokinetic responses (OKRs). The initial phase was examined by measuring the open-loop eye velocity of the OKRs to sinusoidal grating patterns of various spatial frequencies moving at various temporal frequencies for 0.5 s. The mutant mice showed significant initial OKRs with a spatiotemporal frequency tuning (spatial frequency, 0.09 ± 0.01 cycles/°; temporal frequency, 1.87 ± 0.12 Hz) that was slightly different from the wild-type mice (spatial frequency, 0.11 ± 0.01 cycles/°; temporal frequency, 1.66 ± 0.12 Hz). The late phase of the OKRs was examined by measuring the slow phase eye velocity of the optokinetic nystagmus induced by the sinusoidal gratings of various spatiotemporal frequencies moving for 30 s. We found that the optimal spatial and temporal frequencies of the mutant mice (spatial frequency, 0.11 ± 0.02 cycles/°; temporal frequency, 0.81 ± 0.24 Hz) were both lower than those in the wild-type mice (spatial frequency, 0.15 ± 0.02 cycles/°; temporal frequency, 1.93 ± 0.62 Hz). These results suggest that the ribbon synapse modulates the spatiotemporal frequency tuning of visual processing along the ON pathway by which the late phase of OKRs is mediated.
PMCID: PMC4425508  PMID: 25955222
6.  Response: Commentary: “Prdm13 regulates subtype specification of retinal amacrine interneurons and modulates visual sensitivity” 
PMCID: PMC4729904  PMID: 26858608
Prdm13; retina; amacrine cell; optokinetic response; aliasing
7.  Basolateral Mg2+ Extrusion via CNNM4 Mediates Transcellular Mg2+ Transport across Epithelia: A Mouse Model 
PLoS Genetics  2013;9(12):e1003983.
Transcellular Mg2+ transport across epithelia, involving both apical entry and basolateral extrusion, is essential for magnesium homeostasis, but molecules involved in basolateral extrusion have not yet been identified. Here, we show that CNNM4 is the basolaterally located Mg2+ extrusion molecule. CNNM4 is strongly expressed in intestinal epithelia and localizes to their basolateral membrane. CNNM4-knockout mice showed hypomagnesemia due to the intestinal malabsorption of magnesium, suggesting its role in Mg2+ extrusion to the inner parts of body. Imaging analyses revealed that CNNM4 can extrude Mg2+ by exchanging intracellular Mg2+ with extracellular Na+. Furthermore, CNNM4 mutations cause Jalili syndrome, characterized by recessive amelogenesis imperfecta with cone-rod dystrophy. CNNM4-knockout mice showed defective amelogenesis, and CNNM4 again localizes to the basolateral membrane of ameloblasts, the enamel-forming epithelial cells. Missense point mutations associated with the disease abolish the Mg2+ extrusion activity. These results demonstrate the crucial importance of Mg2+ extrusion by CNNM4 in organismal and topical regulation of magnesium.
Author Summary
Magnesium is an essential element for living organisms. Its absorption occurs at the intestine through the barrier comprised of epithelial cells. In this process, transcellular Mg2+ transport across epithelia, involving both entry from one side and extrusion from the other side, is important. Previous studies have revealed the role of Mg2+-permeable channel protein in Mg2+ entry into the epithelial cells. However, the identity of proteins involved in Mg2+ extrusion to the inner parts of body has remained unknown. Mice genetically engineered not to express CNNM4, which localizes to the epithelial membrane facing to the inner parts of body, show hypomagnesemia due to the defect in magnesium absorption. Functional analyses using culture cells directly reveal that CNNM4 can extrude intracellular Mg2+ to the outside of cells. These results indicate that CNNM4 mediates transcellular Mg2+ transport across the intestinal epithelia. Furthermore, we also show that these CNNM4-lacking mice also have a defect in amelogenesis, which is consistent with the disease symptoms of Jalili syndrome that is known to be caused by mutations in the CNNM4 gene.
PMCID: PMC3854942  PMID: 24339795
8.  NeuroD1 is required for survival of photoreceptors but not pinealocytes: Results from targeted gene deletion studies 
Journal of neurochemistry  2012;123(1):44-59.
NeuroD1 encodes a basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH) transcription factor involved in the development of neural and endocrine structures, including the retina and pineal gland. To determine the effect of NeuroD1 knockout in these tissues, a Cre/loxP recombination strategy was used to target a NeuroD1 floxed gene and generate NeuroD1 conditional knockout (cKO) mice. Tissue specificity was conferred using Cre recombinase expressed under the control of the promoter of Crx, which is selectively expressed in the pineal gland and retina. At two months of age NeuroD1 cKO retinas have a dramatic reduction in rod- and cone-driven electroretinograms and contain shortened and disorganized outer segments; by four months NeuroD1 cKO retinas are devoid of photoreceptors. In contrast, the NeuroD1 cKO pineal gland appears histologically normal. Microarray analysis of two-month-old NeuroD1 cKO retina and pineal gland identified a subset of genes that were affected 2- to 100-fold; in addition, a small group of genes exhibit altered differential night/day expression. Included in the down-regulated genes are Aipl1, which is necessary to prevent retinal degeneration, and Ankrd33, which is selectively expressed in the outer segments. These findings suggest that NeuroD1 may act through Aipl1 and other genes to maintain photoreceptor homeostasis.
PMCID: PMC3441145  PMID: 22784109
NeuroD1; microarray; retina; pineal gland; gene expression; transcriptome profiling
9.  Tropisms of AAV for Subretinal Delivery to the Neonatal Mouse Retina and Its Application for In Vivo Rescue of Developmental Photoreceptor Disorders 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e54146.
Adeno-associated virus (AAV) is well established as a vehicle for in vivo gene transfer into the mammalian retina. This virus is promising not only for gene therapy of retinal diseases, but also for in vivo functional analysis of retinal genes. Previous reports have shown that AAV can infect various cell types in the developing mouse retina. However, AAV tropism in the developing retina has not yet been examined in detail.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We subretinally delivered seven AAV serotypes (AAV2/1, 2/2, 2/5, 2/8, 2/9, 2/10, and 2/11) of AAV-CAG-mCherry into P0 mouse retinas, and quantitatively evaluated the tropisms of each serotype by its infecting degree in retinal cells. After subretinal injection of AAV into postnatal day 0 (P0) mouse retinas, various retinal cell types were efficiently transduced with different AAVs. Photoreceptor cells were efficiently transduced with AAV2/5. Retinal cells, except for bipolar and Müller glial cells, were efficiently transduced with AAV2/9. Horizontal and/or ganglion cells were efficiently transduced with AAV2/1, AAV2/2, AAV2/8, AAV2/9 and AAV2/10. To confirm the usefulness of AAV-mediated gene transfer into the P0 mouse retina, we performed AAV-mediated rescue of the Cone-rod homeobox gene knockout (Crx KO) mouse, which exhibits an outer segment formation defect, flat electroretinogram (ERG) responses, and photoreceptor degeneration. We injected an AAV expressing Crx under the control of the Crx 2kb promoter into the neonatal Crx KO retina. We showed that AAV mediated-Crx expression significantly decreased the abnormalities of the Crx KO retina.
In the current study, we report suitable AAV tropisms for delivery into the developing mouse retina. Using AAV2/5 in photoreceptor cells, we demonstrated the possibility of gene replacement for the developmental disorder and subsequent degeneration of retinal photoreceptors caused by the absence of Crx.
PMCID: PMC3545928  PMID: 23335994
10.  BAC-Dkk3-EGFP Transgenic Mouse: An In Vivo Analytical Tool for Dkk3 Expression 
Dickkopf (DKK) family proteins are secreted modulators of the Wnt signaling pathway and are capable of regulating the development of many organs and tissues. We previously identified Dkk3 to be a molecule predominantly expressed in the mouse embryonic retina. However, which cell expresses Dkk3 in the developing and mature mouse retina remains to be elucidated. To examine the precise expression of the Dkk3 protein, we generated BAC-Dkk3-EGFP transgenic mice that express EGFP integrated into the Dkk3 gene in a BAC plasmid. Expression analysis using the BAC-Dkk3-EGFP transgenic mice revealed that Dkk3 is expressed in retinal progenitor cells (RPCs) at embryonic stages and in Müller glial cells in the adult retina. Since Müller glial cells may play a potential role in retinal regeneration, BAC-Dkk3-EGFP mice could be useful for retinal regeneration studies.
PMCID: PMC3403811  PMID: 22910798
11.  Heparan Sulfate Regulates Intraretinal Axon Pathfinding by Retinal Ganglion Cells 
Retinal ganglion cell (RGC) axon projection toward the optic nerve head requires the expression of heparan sulfate (HS) in the neural retina, suggesting that HS in the retina functions as an essential modulator of Netrin-1– and Slit-mediated intraretinal RGC axon guidance.
Heparan sulfate (HS) is abundantly expressed in the developing neural retina; however, its role in the intraretinal axon guidance of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) remains unclear. In this study, the authors examined whether HS was essential for the axon guidance of RGCs toward the optic nerve head.
The authors conditionally ablated the gene encoding the exostosin-1 (Ext1) enzyme, using the dickkopf homolog 3 (Dkk3)-Cre transgene, which disrupted HS expression in the mouse retina during directed pathfinding by RGC axons toward the optic nerve head. In situ hybridization, immunohistochemistry, DiI tracing, binding assay, and retinal explant assays were performed to evaluate the phenotypes of the mutants and the roles of HS in intraretinal axon guidance.
Despite no gross abnormality in RGC distribution, the mutant RGC axons exhibited severe intraretinal guidance errors, including optic nerve hypoplasia, ectopic axon penetration through the full thickness of the neural retina and into the subretinal space, and disturbance of the centrifugal projection of RGC axons toward the optic nerve head. These abnormal phenotypes shared similarities with the RGC axon misguidance caused by mutations of genes encoding Netrin-1 and Slit-1/2. Explant assays revealed that the mutant RGCs exhibited disturbed Netrin-1–dependent axon outgrowth and Slit-2–dependent repulsion.
The present study demonstrated that RGC axon projection toward the optic nerve head requires the expression of HS in the neural retina, suggesting that HS in the retina functions as an essential modulator of Netrin-1 and Slit-mediated intraretinal RGC axon guidance.
PMCID: PMC3176022  PMID: 21743013
12.  A role for nyctalopin, a small leucine rich repeat protein, in localizing the TRPM1 channel to retinal depolarizing bipolar cell dendrites 
Expression of channels to specific neuronal sites can critically impact their function and regulation. Currently, the molecular mechanisms underlying this targeting and intracellular trafficking of TRP channels remains poorly understood and identifying proteins involved in these processes will provide insight into underlying mechanisms. Vision is dependent on the normal function of retinal depolarizing bipolar cells (DBCs), which couple a metabotropic glutamate receptor 6 (mGluR6) to the TRP melastatin 1 (TRPM1) channel to transmit signals from photoreceptors. We report that the extracellular membrane attached protein, nyctalopin, is required for the normal expression of TRPM1 on the dendrites of DBCs in mus musculus. Biochemical and genetic data indicate that nyctalopin and TRPM1 interact directly suggesting that nyctalopin is acting as an accessory TRP channel subunit critical for proper channel localization to the synapse.
PMCID: PMC3139999  PMID: 21734298
TRPM1; nyctalopin; depolarizing bipolar cell; dendritic targeting; retina
13.  Plasticity of TRPM1 expression and localization in the wild type and degenerating mouse retina 
Vision research  2010;50(23):2460-2465.
The light response in retinal ON bipolar cells is associated with disinhibition of current flow through cation channels recently identified as type 1 members of the melastatin transient receptor potential (TRPM) family. We determined the developmental expression of Trpm1 in the wild type C57BL/6, DBA/2J, DBA2J-Gpnmb mouse retinas and in Pde6brd1 retinas characterized by degeneration of rod photoreceptors. Trpm1 mRNA in wild type retinas was low at birth but exhibited progressive increases in abundance up to early adulthood at postnatal day 21 (P21). Retinal Trpm1 mRNA content did not decrease following loss of photoreceptors. At P21, TRPM1-immunopositive perikarya migrated into the outer nuclear layer. The TRPM1 protein was trafficked to discrete postsynaptic puncta in wild type retinas whereas in adult Pde6brd1 mouse retinas, TRPM1 translocated to bipolar perikarya and bar-like structures in the distal inner nuclear layer. These findings show that expression and localization of the TRPM1 in the mouse retina is plastic, modulated by use-dependence and availability of sustained excitatory input.
PMCID: PMC2975815  PMID: 20801142
TRPM1; retina; bipolar cell; gene expression; degeneration
14.  Identification of Autoantibodies against TRPM1 in Patients with Paraneoplastic Retinopathy Associated with ON Bipolar Cell Dysfunction 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(5):e19911.
Paraneoplastic retinopathy (PR), including cancer-associated retinopathy (CAR) and melanoma-associated retinopathy (MAR), is a progressive retinal disease caused by antibodies generated against neoplasms not associated with the eye. While several autoantibodies against retinal antigens have been identified, there has been no known autoantibody reacting specifically against bipolar cell antigens in the sera of patients with PR. We previously reported that the transient receptor potential cation channel, subfamily M, member 1 (TRPM1) is specifically expressed in retinal ON bipolar cells and functions as a component of ON bipolar cell transduction channels. In addition, this and other groups have reported that human TRPM1 mutations are associated with the complete form of congenital stationary night blindness. The purpose of the current study is to investigate whether there are autoantibodies against TRPM1 in the sera of PR patients exhibiting ON bipolar cell dysfunction.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We performed Western blot analysis to identify an autoantibody against TRPM1 in the serum of a patient with lung CAR. The electroretinograms of this patient showed a severely reduced ON response with normal OFF response, indicating that the defect is in the signal transmission between photoreceptors and ON bipolar cells. We also investigated the sera of 26 patients with MAR for autoantibodies against TRPM1 because MAR patients are known to exhibit retinal ON bipolar cell dysfunction. Two of the patients were found to have autoantibodies against TRPM1 in their sera.
Our study reveals TRPM1 to be one of the autoantigens targeted by autoantibodies in at least some patients with CAR or MAR associated with retinal ON bipolar cell dysfunction.
PMCID: PMC3096646  PMID: 21611200
15.  Analysis of Transcriptional Regulatory Pathways of Photoreceptor Genes by Expression Profiling of the Otx2-Deficient Retina 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(5):e19685.
In the vertebrate retina, the Otx2 transcription factor plays a crucial role in the cell fate determination of both rod and cone photoreceptors. We previously reported that Otx2 conditional knockout (CKO) mice exhibited a total absence of rods and cones in the retina due to their cell fate conversion to amacrine-like cells. In order to investigate the entire transcriptome of the Otx2 CKO retina, we compared expression profile of Otx2 CKO and wild-type retinas at P1 and P12 using microarray. We observed that expression of 101- and 1049-probe sets significantly decreased in the Otx2 CKO retina at P1 and P12, respectively, whereas, expression of 3- and 4149-probe sets increased at P1 and P12, respectively. We found that expression of genes encoding transcription factors involved in photoreceptor development, including Crx, Nrl, Nr2e3, Esrrb, and NeuroD, was markedly down-regulated in the Otx2 CKO at both P1 and P12. Furthermore, we identified three human retinal disease loci mapped in close proximity to certain down-regulated genes in the Otx2 CKO retina including Ccdc126, Tnfsf13 and Pitpnm1, suggesting that these genes are possibly responsible for these diseases. These transcriptome data sets of the Otx2 CKO retina provide a resource on developing rods and cones to further understand the molecular mechanisms underlying photoreceptor development, function and disease.
PMCID: PMC3094341  PMID: 21602925
16.  On experiences of i2b2 (Informatics for integrating biology and the bedside) database with Japanese clinical patients’ data 
Bioinformation  2011;6(2):86-90.
Informatics for Integrating Biology and the Bedside (i2b2) is a database system to facilitate sharing and reuse of clinical patients' data collected in individual hospitals. The i2b2 provides an ontology based object-oriented database system with highly simple and flexible database schema which enables us to integrate clinical patients' data from different laboratories and different hospitals. 392 patients' data including carcinoma and non-carcinoma specimens from cancer patients are transported from the Integrated Clinical Omics Database (iCOD) to the i2b2 database for a feasibility study to check applicability of i2b2 ontology and database schema on Japanese clinical patients’ data. No modification is required for the i2b2 data model to deal with Japanese characters. Some modification of ontology is required to integrate biomedical information extracted from the cancer patients’ data. We believe that the i2b2 system will be practical infrastructure to integrate Japanese clinical databases if appropriate disease ontology for Japanese patients is provided.
PMCID: PMC3082863  PMID: 21544172
17.  Retina Specific GTPase Accelerator RGS11/Gβ5S/R9AP is a Constitutive Heterotrimer Selectively Targeted to mGluR6 in ON-Bipolar Neurons 
Members of the R7 family of the Regulators of G protein signaling (R7 RGS) proteins form multi-subunit complexes that play crucial roles in processing the light responses of retinal neurons. The disruption of these complexes has been shown to lead to the loss of temporal resolution in retinal photoreceptors and deficient synaptic transmission to downstream neurons. Despite the well established role of one member of this family, RGS9-1, in controlling vertebrate phototransduction, the roles and organizational principles of other members in the retina are poorly understood. Here we investigate the composition, localization, and function of complexes containing RGS11, the closest homolog of RGS9-1. We find that RGS11 forms a novel obligatory trimeric complex with the short splice isoform of the type 5 G protein β subunit (Gβ5), and the RGS9 Anchor Protein (R9AP). The complex is expressed exclusively in the dendritic tips of ON-bipolar cells where its localization is accomplished through a direct association with mGluR6, the glutamate receptor essential for the ON-bipolar light response. While association with both R9AP and mGluR6 contributed to the proteolytic stabilization of the complex, postsynaptic targeting of RGS11 was not determined by its membrane anchor, R9AP. Electrophysiological recordings of the light response in mouse rod ON-bipolar cells reveal that the genetic elimination of RGS11 has little effect on the deactivation of Gαo in dark-adapted cells or during adaptation to background light. These results suggest the deactivation of mGluR6 cascade during the light response may require the contribution of multiple GTPase activating proteins.
PMCID: PMC2731308  PMID: 19625520
G protein; signal transduction; RGS proteins; retina; intracellular targeting; ON-bipolar neurons; mGluR6
18.  TRPM1 mutations are associated with the complete form of congenital stationary night blindness 
Molecular Vision  2010;16:425-437.
To identify human transient receptor potential cation channel, subfamily M, member 1 (TRPM1) gene mutations in patients with congenital stationary night blindness (CSNB).
We analyzed four different Japanese patients with complete CSNB in whom previous molecular examination revealed no mutation in either nyctalopin (NYX) or glutamate receptor, metabotropic 6 (GRM6). The ophthalmologic examination included best-corrected visual acuity, refraction, biomicroscopy, ophthalmoscopy, fundus photography, Goldmann kinetic perimetry, color vision tests, and electroretinography (ERG). Exons 2 through 27 and the exon-intron junction regions of human TRPM1 were sequenced.
Five different mutations in human TRPM1 were identified. Mutations were present in three unrelated patients with complete CSNB. All three patients were compound heterozygotes. Fundus examination revealed no abnormalities other than myopic changes, and the single bright-flash, mixed rod-cone ERG showed a “negative-type” configuration with a reduced normal a-wave and a significantly reduced b-wave amplitude. Our biochemical and cell biologic analyses suggest that the two identified IVS mutations lead to abnormal TRPM1 protein production, and imply that the two identified missense mutations lead to the mislocalization of the TRPM1 protein in bipolar cells (BCs).
Human TRPM1 mutations are associated with the complete form of CSNB in Japanese patients, suggesting that TRPM1 plays an essential role in mediating the photoresponse in ON BCs in humans as well as in mice.
PMCID: PMC2838739  PMID: 20300565
19.  Isolation and characterization of a novel plasma membrane protein, osteoblast induction factor (obif), associated with osteoblast differentiation 
While several cell types are known to contribute to bone formation, the major player is a common bone matrix-secreting cell type, the osteoblast. Chondrocytes, which plays critical roles at several stages of endochondral ossification, and osteoblasts are derived from common precursors, and both intrinsic cues and signals from extrinsic cues play critical roles in the lineage decision of these cell types. Several studies have shown that cell fate commitment within the osteoblast lineage requires sequential, stage-specific signaling to promote osteoblastic differentiation programs. In osteoblastic differentiation, the functional mechanisms of transcriptional regulators have been well elucidated, however the exact roles of extrinsic molecules in osteoblastic differentiation are less clear.
We identify a novel gene, obif (osteoblast induction factor), encoding a transmembrane protein that is predominantly expressed in osteoblasts. During mouse development, obif is initially observed in the limb bud in a complementary pattern to Sox9 expression. Later in development, obif is highly expressed in osteoblasts at the stage of endochondral ossification. In cell line models, obif is up-regulated during osteoblastic differentiation. Exogenous obif expression stimulates osteoblastic differentiation and obif knockdown inhibits osteoblastic differentiation in preosteblastic MC3T3-E1 cells. In addition, the extracellular domain of obif protein exhibits functions similar to the full-length obif protein in induction of MC3T3-E1 differentiation.
Our results suggest that obif plays a role in osteoblastic differentiation by acting as a ligand.
PMCID: PMC2805627  PMID: 20025746
20.  Functional Roles of Otx2 Transcription Factor in Postnatal Mouse Retinal Development▿ † 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2007;27(23):8318-8329.
We previously reported that Otx2 is essential for photoreceptor cell fate determination; however, the functional role of Otx2 in postnatal retinal development is still unclear although it has been reported to be expressed in retinal bipolar cells and photoreceptors at postnatal stages. In this study, we first examined the roles of Otx2 in the terminal differentiation of photoreceptors by analyzing Otx2; Crx double-knockout mice. In Otx2+/−; Crx−/− retinas, photoreceptor degeneration and downregulation of photoreceptor-specific genes were much more prominent than in Crx−/− retinas, suggesting that Otx2 has a role in the terminal differentiation of the photoreceptors. Moreover, bipolar cells decreased in the Otx2+/−; Crx−/− retina, suggesting that Otx2 is also involved in retinal bipolar-cell development. To further investigate the role of Otx2 in bipolar-cell development, we generated a postnatal bipolar-cell-specific Otx2 conditional-knockout mouse line. Immunohistochemical analysis of this line showed that the expression of protein kinase C, a marker of mature bipolar cells, was significantly downregulated in the retina. Electroretinograms revealed that the electrophysiological function of retinal bipolar cells was impaired as a result of Otx2 ablation. These data suggest that Otx2 plays a functional role in the maturation of retinal photoreceptor and bipolar cells.
PMCID: PMC2169187  PMID: 17908793
21.  Cloning and characterization of mr-s, a novel SAM domain protein, predominantly expressed in retinal photoreceptor cells 
Sterile alpha motif (SAM) domains are ~70 residues long and have been reported as common protein-protein interaction modules. This domain is found in a large number of proteins, including Polycomb group (PcG) proteins and ETS family transcription factors. In this work, we report the cloning and functional characterization of a novel SAM domain-containing protein, which is predominantly expressed in retinal photoreceptors and the pineal gland and is designated mouse mr-s (major retinal SAM domain protein).
mr-s is evolutionarily conserved from zebrafish through human, organisms through which the mechanism of photoreceptor development is also highly conserved. Phylogenetic analysis suggests that the SAM domain of mr-s is most closely related to a mouse polyhomeotic (ph) ortholog, Mph1/Rae28, which is known as an epigenetic molecule involved in chromatin modifications. These findings provide the possibility that mr-s may play a critical role by regulating gene expression in photoreceptor development. mr-s is preferentially expressed in the photoreceptors at postnatal day 3–6 (P3-6), when photoreceptors undergo terminal differentiation, and in the adult pineal gland. Transcription of mr-s is directly regulated by the cone-rod homeodomain protein Crx. Immunoprecipitation assay showed that the mr-s protein self-associates mainly through the SAM domain-containing region as well as ph. The mr-s protein localizes mainly in the nucleus, when mr-s is overexpressed in HEK293T cells. Moreover, in the luciferase assays, we found that mr-s protein fused to GAL4 DNA-binding domain functions as a transcriptional repressor. We revealed that the repression activity of mr-s is not due to a homophilic interaction through its SAM domain but to the C-terminal region.
We identified a novel gene, mr-s, which is predominantly expressed in retinal photoreceptors and pineal gland. Based on its expression pattern and biochemical analysis, we predict that mr-s may function as a transcriptional repressor in photoreceptor cells and in pinealocytes of the pineal gland.
PMCID: PMC1435744  PMID: 16539743
22.  Synaptogenesis and outer segment formation are perturbed in the neural retina of Crx mutant mice 
BMC Neuroscience  2005;6:5.
In Leber's congenital amaurosis (LCA), affected individuals are blind, or nearly so, from birth. This early onset suggests abnormal development of the neural retina. Mutations in genes that affect the development and/or function of photoreceptor cells have been found to be responsible in some families. These examples include mutations in the photoreceptor transcription factor, Crx.
A Crx mutant strain of mice was created to serve as a model for LCA and to provide more insight into Crx's function. In this study, an ultrastructural analysis of the developing retina in Crx mutant mice was performed. Outer segment morphogenesis was found to be blocked at the elongation stage, leading to a failure in production of the phototransduction apparatus. Further, Crx-/- photoreceptors demonstrated severely abnormal synaptic endings in the outer plexiform layer.
This is the first report of a synaptogenesis defect in an animal model for LCA. These data confirm the essential role this gene plays in multiple aspects of photoreceptor development and extend our understanding of the basic pathology of LCA.
PMCID: PMC548520  PMID: 15676071
23.  LIM Protein KyoT2 Negatively Regulates Transcription by Association with the RBP-J DNA-Binding Protein 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  1998;18(1):644-654.
The RBP-J/Su(H) DNA-binding protein plays a key role in transcriptional regulation by targeting Epstein-Barr virus nuclear antigen 2 (EBNA2) and the intracellular portions of Notch receptors to specific promoters. Using the yeast two-hybrid system, we isolated a LIM-only protein, KyoT, which physically interacts with RBP-J. Differential splicing gave rise to two transcripts of the KyoT gene, KyoT1 and KyoT2, that encoded proteins with four and two LIM domains, respectively. With differential splicing resulting in deletion of an exon, KyoT2 lacked two LIM domains from the C terminus and had a frameshift in the last exon, creating the RBP-J-binding region in the C terminus. KyoT1 had a negligible level of interaction with RBP-J. Strong expression of KyoT mRNAs was detected in skeletal muscle and lung, with a predominance of KyoT1 mRNA. When expressed in F9 embryonal carcinoma cells, KyoT1 and KyoT2 were localized in the cytoplasm and the nucleus, respectively. The binding site of KyoT2 on RBP-J overlaps those of EBNA2 and Notch1 but is distinct from that of Hairless, the negative regulator of RBP-J-mediated transcription in Drosophila. KyoT2 but not KyoT1 repressed the RBP-J-mediated transcriptional activation by EBNA2 and Notch1 by competing with them for binding to RBP-J and by dislocating RBP-J from DNA. KyoT2 is a novel negative regulatory molecule for RBP-J-mediated transcription in mammalian systems.
PMCID: PMC121531  PMID: 9418910

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