Positional cloning and characterization of the human aniridia and murine small eye genes

Carl Chun-Tsang Ton, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


Aniridia (AN) is a congenital, panocular disorder of the eye characterized by the complete or partial absence of the iris. The disease can occur in both the sporadic and familial forms which, in the latter case, is inherited as an autosomal dominant trait with high penetrance. The objective of this study was to isolate and characterize the genes involved in AN and Sey, and thereby to gain a better understanding of the molecular basis of the two disorders. Using a positional cloning strategy, I have approached and cloned from the AN locus in human chromosomal band 11p13 a cDNA that is deleted in two patients with AN. The deletions in these patients overlap by about 70 kb and encompass the 3$\sp\prime$ end of the cDNA. This cDNA detects a 2.7 kb mRNA encoded by a transcription unit estimated to span approximately 50 kb of genomic DNA. The message is specifically expressed in all tissues affected in all forms of AN, namely within the presumptive iris, lens, neuroretina, the superficial layers of the cornea, the olfactory bulbs, and the cerebellum. Sequence analysis of the AN cDNA revealed a number of motifs characteristic of certain transcription factors. Chief among these are the presence of the paired domain, the homeodomain, and a carboxy-terminal domain rich in serine, threonine and proline residues. The overall structure shows high homology to the Drosophila segmentation gene paired and members of the murine Pax family of developmental control genes. Utilizing a conserved human genomic DNA sequence as probe, I was able to isolate an embryonic murine cDNA which is over 92% homologous in nucleotide sequence and virtually identical at the amino acid level to the human AN cDNA. The expression pattern of the murine gene is the same as that in man, supporting the conclusion that it probably corresponds to the Sey gene. Its specific expression in the neuroectodermal component of the eye, in glioblastomas, but not in the neural crest-derived PC12 pheochromocytoma cell line, suggests that a defect in neuroectodermal rather mesodermal development might be the common etiological factor underlying AN and Sey.

Subject Area

Molecular biology|Genetics

Recommended Citation

Ton, Carl Chun-Tsang, "Positional cloning and characterization of the human aniridia and murine small eye genes" (1991). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9210718.