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    During vertebrate eye morphogenesis, a transient fissure forms at its inferior part, known as the optic fissure. This will gradually close, giving rise to a healthy, spherical optic cup. Failure of the optic fissure to close gives rise to an ocular disorder known as coloboma. During this developmental process, Foxg1 is expressed in the optic neuroepithelium, with highest levels of expression in the nasal optic stalk. Foxg1-/- mutant mice have microphthalmic eyes with a large ventral coloboma. We found Wnt8b expression upregulated in the Foxg1-/- optic stalk and hypothesized that, similar to what is observed in telencephalic development, Foxg1 directs development of the optic neuroepithelium through transcriptional suppression of Wnt8b To test this, we generated Foxg1-/-;Wnt8b-/- double mutants of either sex and found that the morphology of the optic cup and stalk and the closure of the optic fissure were substantially rescued in these embryos. This rescue correlates with restored Pax2 expression in the anterior tip of the optic fissure. In addition, although we do not find evidence implicating altered proliferation in the rescue, we observe a significant increase in apoptotic cell density in Foxg1-/-;Wnt8b-/- double mutants compared with the Foxg1-/- single mutant. Upregulation of Wnt/β-catenin target molecules in the optic cup and stalk may underlie the molecular and morphological defects in the Foxg1-/- mutant. Our results show that proper optic fissure closure relies on Wnt8b suppression by Foxg1 in the nasal optic stalk to maintain balanced apoptosis and Pax2 expression in the nasal and temporal edges of the fissure.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT Coloboma is an ocular disorder that may result in a loss of visual acuity and accounts for ∼10% of childhood blindness. It results from errors in the sealing of the optic fissure (OF), a transient structure at the bottom of the eye. Here, we investigate the colobomatous phenotype of the Foxg1-/- mutant mouse. We identify upregulated expression of Wnt8b in the optic stalk of Foxg1-/- mutants before OF closure initiates. Foxg1-/-;Wnt8b-/- double mutants show a substantial rescue of the Foxg1-/- coloboma phenotype, which correlates with a rescue in molecular and cellular defects of Foxg1-/- mutants. Our results unravel a new role of Foxg1 in promoting OF closure providing additional knowledge about the molecules and cellular mechanisms underlying coloboma formation. Copyright © 2017 Smith et al.


    Rowena Smith, Yu-Ting Huang, Tian Tian, Dominika Vojtasova, Oscar Mesalles-Naranjo, Steven M Pollard, Thomas Pratt, David J Price, Vassiliki Fotaki. The Transcription Factor Foxg1 Promotes Optic Fissure Closure in the Mouse by Suppressing Wnt8b in the Nasal Optic Stalk. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience. 2017 Aug 16;37(33):7975-7993

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    PMID: 28729440

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