Messchaert, M., Dona, M., Broekman, S., Peters, T.A., Corral-Serrano, J.C., Slijkerman, R.W.N., van Wijk, E., Collin, R.W.J. (2018) Eyes shut homolog is important for the maintenance of photoreceptor morphology and visual function in zebrafish. PLoS One. 13:e0200789.
Mutations in eyes shut homolog (EYS), a gene predominantly expressed in the photoreceptor cells of the retina, are among the most frequent causes of autosomal recessive (ar) retinitis pigmentosa (RP), a progressive retinal disorder. Due to the absence of EYS in several rodent species and its retina-specific expression, still little is known about the exact function of EYS and the pathogenic mechanism underlying EYS-associated RP. We characterized eys in zebrafish, by RT-PCR analysis on zebrafish eye-derived RNA, which led to the identification of a 8,715 nucleotide coding sequence that is divided over 46 exons. The transcript is predicted to encode a 2,905-aa protein that contains 39 EGF-like domains and five laminin A G-like domains, which overall shows 33% identity with human EYS. To study the function of EYS, we generated a stable eysrmc101/rmc101 mutant zebrafish model using CRISPR/Cas9 technology. The introduced lesion is predicted to result in premature termination of protein synthesis and lead to loss of Eys function. Immunohistochemistry on retinal sections revealed that Eys localizes at the region of the connecting cilium and that both rhodopsin and cone transducin are mislocalized in the absence of Eys. Electroretinogram recordings showed diminished b-wave amplitudes in eysrmc101/rmc101 zebrafish (5 dpf) compared to age- and strain-matched wild-type larvae. In addition, decreased locomotor activity in response to light stimuli was observed in eys mutant larvae. Altogether, our study shows that absence of Eys leads to a disorganized retinal architecture and causes visual dysfunction in zebrafish.