Analysis of genetic networks regulating refractive eye development in collaborative cross progenitor strain mice reveals new genes and pathways underlying human myopia

Tkatchenko, Tatiana V.; Shah, Rupal L.; Nagasaki, Takayuki; Tkatchenko, Andrei V.

Population studies suggest that genetic factors play an important role in refractive error development; however, the precise role of genetic background and the composition of the signaling pathways underlying refractive eye development remain poorly understood.

Here, we analyzed normal refractive development and susceptibility to form-deprivation myopia in the eight progenitor mouse strains of the Collaborative Cross (CC). We used RNA-seq to analyze gene expression in the retinae of these mice and reconstruct genetic networks and signaling pathways underlying refractive eye development. We also utilized genome-wide gene-based association analysis to identify mouse genes and pathways associated with myopia in humans.

Genetic background strongly influenced both baseline refractive development and susceptibility to environmentally-induced myopia. Baseline refractive errors ranged from − 21.2 diopters (D) in 129S1/svlmj mice to + 22.0 D in CAST/EiJ mice and represented a continuous distribution typical of a quantitative genetic trait. The extent of induced form-deprivation myopia ranged from − 5.6 D in NZO/HILtJ mice to − 20.0 D in CAST/EiJ mice and also followed a continuous distribution. Whole-genome (RNA-seq) gene expression profiling in retinae from CC progenitor strains identified genes whose expression level correlated with either baseline refractive error or susceptibility to myopia. Expression levels of 2,302 genes correlated with the baseline refractive state of the eye, whereas 1,917 genes correlated with susceptibility to induced myopia. Genome-wide gene-based association analysis in the CREAM and UK Biobank human cohorts revealed that 985 of the above genes were associated with myopia in humans, including 847 genes which were implicated in the development of human myopia for the first time. Although the gene sets controlling baseline refractive development and those regulating susceptibility to myopia overlapped, these two processes appeared to be controlled by largely distinct sets of genes.

Comparison with data for other animal models of myopia revealed that the genes identified in this study comprise a well-defined set of retinal signaling pathways, which are highly conserved across different vertebrate species. These results identify major signaling pathways involved in refractive eye development and provide attractive targets for the development of anti-myopia drugs.


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Also Published In

BMC Medical Genomics

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Published Here
December 20, 2022


Myopia, Refractive eye development, Genetic networks, Signaling pathways, Genetic variation, RNA-seq, Gene-based genome-wide association analysis, Evolutionary conservation of pathways