ZFIN ID: ZDB-PUB-160615-2
Mutations in zebrafish pitx2 model congenital malformations in Axenfeld-Rieger syndrome but do not disrupt left-right placement of visceral organs
Ji, Y., Buel, S.M., Amack, J.D.
Date: 2016
Source: Developmental Biology   416(1): 69-81 (Journal)
Registered Authors: Amack, Jeffrey, Ji, Yongchang
Keywords: Axenfeld-Rieger syndrome, Elovl6, Pitx2, genome editing, left-right asymmetry, zebrafish
MeSH Terms:
  • Acetyltransferases/genetics
  • Acetyltransferases/metabolism
  • Animals
  • Anterior Eye Segment/abnormalities*
  • Anterior Eye Segment/pathology
  • Body Patterning/genetics
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Eye Abnormalities/genetics*
  • Eye Abnormalities/pathology
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Heart/embryology
  • Intestines/embryology
  • Male
  • Mutation*
  • Signal Transduction
  • Transcription Factors/genetics*
  • Viscera/embryology
  • Zebrafish
  • Zebrafish Proteins/genetics*
PubMed: 27297886 Full text @ Dev. Biol.
Pitx2 is a conserved homeodomain transcription factor that has multiple functions during embryonic development. Mutations in human PITX2 cause autosomal dominant Axenfeld-Rieger syndrome (ARS), characterized by congenital eye and tooth malformations. Pitx2(-/-) knockout mouse models recapitulate aspects of ARS, but are embryonic lethal. To date, ARS treatments remain limited to managing individual symptoms due to an incomplete understanding of PITX2 function. In addition to regulating eye and tooth development, Pitx2 is a target of a conserved Nodal (TGFβ) signaling pathway that mediates left-right (LR) asymmetry of visceral organs. Based on its highly conserved asymmetric expression domain, the Nodal-Pitx2 axis has long been considered a common denominator of LR development in vertebrate embryos. However, functions of Pitx2 during asymmetric organ morphogenesis are not well understood. To gain new insight into Pitx2 function we used genome editing to create mutations in the zebrafish pitx2 gene. Mutations in the pitx2 homeodomain caused phenotypes reminiscent of ARS, including aberrant development of the cornea and anterior chamber of the eye and reduced or absent teeth. Intriguingly, LR asymmetric looping of the heart and gut was normal in pitx2 mutants. These results suggest conserved roles for Pitx2 in eye and tooth development and indicate Pitx2 is not required for asymmetric looping of zebrafish visceral organs. This work establishes zebrafish pitx2 mutants as a new animal model for investigating mechanisms underlying congenital malformations in ARS and high-throughput drug screening for ARS therapeutics. Additionally, pitx2 mutants present a unique opportunity to identify new genes involved in vertebrate LR patterning. We show Nodal signaling-independent of Pitx2-controls asymmetric expression of the fatty acid elongase elovl6 in zebrafish, pointing to a potential novel pathway during LR organogenesis.