Purpose Mutations in the CYP1B1 gene are the most commonly identified genetic causes of primary infantile-onset glaucoma. Despite this disease association, the role of CYP1B1 in eye development and its in vivo substrate remain unknown. In the present study, we used zebrafish to elucidate the mechanism by which cyp1b1 regulates eye development.
Methods Zebrafish eye and neural crest development were analyzed using live imaging of transgenic zebrafish embryos, in situ hybridization, immunostaining, TUNEL assay, and methylacrylate sections. Cyp1b1 and retinoic acid (RA) levels were genetically (morpholino oligonucleotide antisense and mRNA) and pharmacologically manipulated to examine gene function.
Results Using zebrafish, we observed that cyp1b1 was expressed in a specific spatiotemporal pattern in the ocular fissures of the developing zebrafish retina and regulated fissure patency. Decreased Cyp1b1 resulted in the premature breakdown of laminin in the ventral fissure and altered subsequent neural crest migration into the anterior segment. In contrast, cyp1b1 overexpression inhibited cell survival in the ventral ocular fissure and prevented fissure closure via an RA-independent pathway. Cyp1b1 overexpression also inhibited the ocular expression of vsx2, pax6a, and pax6b and increased the extraocular expression of shha. Importantly, embryos injected with human wild-type but not mutant CYP1B1 mRNA also showed colobomas, demonstrating the evolutionary and functional conservation of gene function between species.
Conclusions Cyp1b1 regulation of ocular fissure closure indirectly affects neural crest migration and development through an RA-independent pathway. These studies provide insight into the role of Cyp1b1 in eye development and further elucidate the pathogenesis of primary infantile-onset glaucoma.