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CRB2 in immature photoreceptors determines the superior-inferior symmetry of the developing retina to maintain retinal structure and function

Publication year 2018
Published in Human Molecular Genetics
Authors Peter M Quinn, C.H.F. Alves, J. Klooster, J. Wijnholds

The mammalian apical-basal determinant Crumbs homolog-1 (CRB1) plays a crucial role in retinal structure and function by the maintenance of adherens junctions between photoreceptors and Müller glial cells. Patients with mutations in the CRB1 gene develop retinal dystrophies, including early-onset retinitis pigmentosa and Leber congenital amaurosis. Previously, we showed that Crb1 knockout mice developed a slow-progressing retinal phenotype at foci in the inferior retina, whiles specific ablation of Crb2 in immature photoreceptors lead to an early-onset phenotype throughout the retina. Here, we conditionally disrupted one or both alleles of Crb2 in immature photoreceptors, on a genetic background lacking Crb1, and studied the retinal dystrophies thereof. Our data showed that disruption of one allele of Crb2 in immature photoreceptors caused a substantial aggravation of the Crb1 phenotype in the entire inferior retina. The photoreceptor layer showed early-onset progressive thinning limited to the inferior retina while the superior retina maintained intact. Surprisingly, disruption of both alleles of Crb2 in immature photoreceptors further aggravated the phenotype. Throughout the retina, photoreceptor synapses were disrupted and photoreceptor nuclei intermingled with nuclei of the inner nuclear layer. In the superior retina, the ganglion cell layer appeared thicker due to ectopic nuclei of photoreceptors. In conclusion, the data suggest that CRB2 is required to maintain retinal progenitor and photoreceptor cell adhesion and prevent photoreceptor ingression into the immature inner retina. We hypothesise, from these animal models, that decreased levels of CRB2 in immature photoreceptors adjust retinitis pigmentosa due to loss of CRB1 into Leber congenital amaurosis phenotype.

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