Gene Summary

Gene:PAX6; paired box 6
Aliases: AN, AN2, FVH1, MGDA, WAGR, D11S812E
Summary:This gene encodes paired box gene 6, one of many human homologs of the Drosophila melanogaster gene prd. In addition to the hallmark feature of this gene family, a conserved paired box domain, the encoded protein also contains a homeo box domain. Both domains are known to bind DNA and function as regulators of gene transcription. This gene is expressed in the developing nervous system, and in developing eyes. Mutations in this gene are known to cause ocular disorders such as aniridia and Peter's anomaly. Alternatively spliced transcript variants encoding multiple isoforms have been observed for this gene. [provided by RefSeq, May 2012]
Databases:OMIM, VEGA, HGNC, Ensembl, GeneCard, Gene
Protein:paired box protein Pax-6
Source:NCBIAccessed: 27 February, 2015


What does this gene/protein do?
Show (68)
Pathways:What pathways are this gene/protein implicaed in?
Show (1)

Cancer Overview

Research Indicators

Publications Per Year (1990-2015)
Graph generated 27 February 2015 using data from PubMed using criteria.

Literature Analysis

Mouse over the terms for more detail; many indicate links which you can click for dedicated pages about the topic.

  • CpG Islands
  • Chromosome 11
  • Promoter Regions
  • Adolescents
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Base Sequence
  • Cancer DNA
  • Gene Deletion
  • PAX6
  • WAGR Syndrome
  • Cell Proliferation
  • beta-Galactosidase
  • Mutation
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis
  • Messenger RNA
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • DNA Methylation
  • DNA Primers
  • Brain Tumours
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Brain Tumours
  • Chromosome Deletion
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins
  • Repressor Proteins
  • Kidney Cancer
  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • FISH
  • Eye Proteins
  • Wilms Tumor Genes
  • Uveal Neoplasms
  • Infant
  • WT1
  • Cancer Gene Expression Regulation
  • Chromosome Mapping
  • Paired Box Transcription Factors
  • Childhood Cancer
  • Aniridia
  • Transfection
  • Wilms Tumour
  • Western Blotting
  • Eye Cancer
Tag cloud generated 27 February, 2015 using data from PubMed, MeSH and CancerIndex

Specific Cancers (4)

Data table showing topics related to specific cancers and associated disorders. Scope includes mutations and abnormal protein expression.

Entity Topic PubMed Papers
Wilms TumourPAX6 and Wilms Tumour View Publications29
WAGR SyndromePAX6 deletions in WAGR Syndrome
Wilms tumor, aniridia, genitourinary anomalies and mental retardation syndrome (WAGR) is a contiguous gene syndrome caused by deletions at chromosome 11p13 in a region containing the WT1 and PAX6 genes.
View Publications23
Brain Tumours, ChildhoodPAX6 and Brain Tumours View Publications11
Eye CancerPAX6 and Uveal Neoplasms View Publications1

Note: list is not exhaustive. Number of papers are based on searches of PubMed (click on topic title for arbitrary criteria used).

Latest Publications: PAX6 (cancer-related)

Meng B, Wang Y, Li B
Suppression of PAX6 promotes cell proliferation and inhibits apoptosis in human retinoblastoma cells.
Int J Mol Med. 2014; 34(2):399-408 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
The aim of this study was to investigate the role of the transcription factor, PAX6, in the development of retinoblastoma. The expression of endogenous PAX6 was knocked down using PAX6-specific lentivirus in two human retinoblastoma cell lines, SO-Rb50 and Y79. Cell proliferation functional assays and apoptotic assays were performed on the cells in which PAX6 was knocked down. The results revealed that PAX6 knockdown efficiency was significant (P<0.01, n=3) in the SO-Rb50 and Y79 cells. The inhibition of PAX6 reduced tumor cell apoptosis (P<0.05, n=3), but induced cell cycle S phase arrest (SO-Rb50; P<0.05, n=3) and G2/M phase arrest (Y79; P<0.05, n=3). Western blot analysis indicated that the inhibition of PAX6 increased the levels of the anti-apoptotic proteins, Bcl-2, proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) and CDK1, but reduced the levels of the pro-apoptotic proteins, BAX and p21. In conclusion, our data demonstrate that the suppression of PAX6 increases proliferation and decreases apoptosis in human retinoblastoma cells by regulating several cell cycle and apoptosis biomarkers.

Shahi MH, Holt R, Rebhun RB
Blocking signaling at the level of GLI regulates downstream gene expression and inhibits proliferation of canine osteosarcoma cells.
PLoS One. 2014; 9(5):e96593 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
The Hedgehog-GLI signaling pathway is active in a variety of human malignancies and is known to contribute to the growth and survival of human osteosarcoma cells. In this study, we examined the expression and regulation of GLI transcription factors in multiple canine osteosarcoma cell lines and analyzed the effects of inhibiting GLI with GANT61, a GLI-specific inhibitor. Compared with normal canine osteoblasts, real-time PCR showed that GLI1 and GLI2 were highly expressed in two out of three cell lines and correlated with downstream target gene expression of PTCH1and PAX6. Treatment of canine osteosarcoma cells with GANT61 resulted in decreased expression of GLI1, GLI2, PTCH1, and PAX6. Furthermore, GANT61 inhibited proliferation and colony formation in all three canine osteosarcoma cell lines. The finding that GLI signaling activity is present and active in canine osteosarcoma cells suggests that spontaneously arising osteosarcoma in dogs might serve as a good model for future preclinical testing of GLI inhibitors.

Cheng Q, Cao H, Chen Z, et al.
PAX6, a novel target of miR-335, inhibits cell proliferation and invasion in glioma cells.
Mol Med Rep. 2014; 10(1):399-404 [PubMed] Related Publications
Paired box 6 (PAX6), a highly conserved transcription factor, is important in glioma. However, the molecular mechanisms involved remain unclear. The present study demonstrated that the expression of PAX6 was significantly reduced with the malignancy of glioma and also identified PAX6 as a novel target of microRNA (miR)‑335, which was significantly upregulated in glioma. The inhibition of miR‑335 increased the protein expression of PAX6, whereas the upregulation of miR‑335 suppressed its expression in human glioma U251 and U87 cells. Furthermore, upregulation of miR-335 promoted U251 cell proliferation, colony formation and invasion, which was reversed by the overexpression of PAX6. Furthermore, the present study demonstrated that the effect of miR‑335 on U251 cell invasion was via the modulation of matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)‑2 and MMP‑9 expression by targeting PAX6. In conclusion, the present study demonstrated that PAX6, as a novel target of miR‑335, has an anti‑oncogenic function in glioma, and thus PAX6 may serve as a therapeutic target for glioma.

Kai Y, Peng W, Ling W, et al.
Reciprocal effects between microRNA-140-5p and ADAM10 suppress migration and invasion of human tongue cancer cells.
Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2014; 448(3):308-14 [PubMed] Related Publications
ADAM10, overexpressed in tongue squamous cell carcinoma (TSCC), has been well documented for its role in tumor progression and metastasis. In the present study, we evaluated the inhibition effect of microRNAs (miRNAs) on the TSCC and identified that miR-140-5p could directly targets ADAM10 and inhibits the invasion and migration of TSCC cells. LAMC1, HDAC7 and PAX6, clustered into migration-related genes, were validated to be direct targets of miR-140-5p, while IGF1R and PSEN1 were not responsible to the regulation. Most intriguingly, ERBB4 was upregulated by miR-140-5p even though the interaction between ERBB4 3'UTR and miR-140-5p existed simultaneously. Meanwhile, ADAM10 is involved in the "positive" regulation of ERBB4 and negative regulation of PAX6 by miR-140-5p. Taken together, our results suggest that miR-140-5p play a role in TSCC cell migration and invasion, and two brand new relationships between miRNA and its targets emerged: (1) ADAM10 is not just a direct target of miR-140-5p, the repressed ADAM10 also helps to enhance the effect of miR-140-5p to other target genes: ERBB4 and PAX6; (2) ERBB4 is "positively" regulated by miR-140-5p.

Yang Q, Shao Y, Shi J, et al.
Concomitant PIK3CA amplification and RASSF1A or PAX6 hypermethylation predict worse survival in gastric cancer.
Clin Biochem. 2014; 47(1-2):111-6 [PubMed] Related Publications
OBJECTIVES: A large number of genetic and epigenetic alterations have been found in gastric cancer, but there is remarkably little consensus on the value of individual biomarker in diagnosis and prognosis of this cancer. This study was designed to illustrate the value of PIK3CA amplification in combination with promoter methylation of RASSF1A and PAX6 genes in early diagnosis and prognosis of gastric cancer.
DESIGN AND METHODS: Using real-time quantitative PCR, quantitative methylation-specific PCR (Q-MSP), and methylation-specific PCR (MSP) assays, we examined PIK3CA amplification and promoter methylation of RASSF1A and PAX6 genes in a cohort of gastric cancers, and explored the association of various (epi)genotypes with clinical outcomes of gastric cancer patients.
RESULTS: We demonstrated that PIK3CA gene was specifically amplified in gastric cancers, but not in normal gastric tissues. Moreover, frequent methylation of RASSF1A and PAX6 was also found in gastric cancers. Given the patients harboring diverse (epi)genotypes, we thus investigated the effect of various (epi)genotypes on poor prognosis in gastric cancer. The data showed that concomitant PIK3CA amplification and RASSF1A or PAX6 methylation were closely associated with poor clinical outcomes, particularly survival, as compared to other (epi)genotypes in gastric cancer.
CONCLUSIONS: We found frequent PIK3CA amplification and promoter methylation of RASSF1A and PAX6 genes in gastric cancers, and demonstrated that concomitant PIK3CA amplification and promoter methylation in any one of these two genes were significantly associated with worse survival in gastric cancer. Collectively, such (epi)genotypes may be strong and independent poor prognostic factors for gastric cancer patients.

Selvarajah S, Pyne S, Chen E, et al.
High-resolution array CGH and gene expression profiling of alveolar soft part sarcoma.
Clin Cancer Res. 2014; 20(6):1521-30 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 15/03/2015 Related Publications
PURPOSE: Alveolar soft part sarcoma (ASPS) is a soft tissue sarcoma with poor prognosis, and little molecular evidence exists for its origin, initiation, and progression. The aim of this study was to elucidate candidate molecular pathways involved in tumor pathogenesis.
EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN: We employed high-throughput array comparative genomic hybridization (aCGH) and cDNA-Mediated Annealing, Selection, Ligation, and Extension Assay to profile the genomic and expression signatures of primary and metastatic ASPS from 17 tumors derived from 11 patients. We used an integrative bioinformatics approach to elucidate the molecular pathways associated with ASPS progression. FISH was performed to validate the presence of the t(X;17)(p11.2;q25) ASPL-TFE3 fusion and, hence, confirm the aCGH observations.
RESULTS: FISH analysis identified the ASPL-TFE3 fusion in all cases. aCGH revealed a higher number of numerical aberrations in metastatic tumors relative to primaries, but failed to identify consistent alterations in either group. Gene expression analysis highlighted 1,063 genes that were differentially expressed between the two groups. Gene set enrichment analysis identified 16 enriched gene sets (P < 0.1) associated with differentially expressed genes. Notable among these were several stem cell gene expression signatures and pathways related to differentiation. In particular, the paired box transcription factor PAX6 was upregulated in the primary tumors, along with several genes whose mouse orthologs have previously been implicated in Pax6 DNA binding during neural stem cell differentiation.
CONCLUSION: In addition to suggesting a tentative neural line of differentiation for ASPS, these results implicate transcriptional deregulation from fusion genes in the pathogenesis of ASPS.

Vance KW, Sansom SN, Lee S, et al.
The long non-coding RNA Paupar regulates the expression of both local and distal genes.
EMBO J. 2014; 33(4):296-311 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 15/03/2015 Related Publications
Although some long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) have been shown to regulate gene expression in cis, it remains unclear whether lncRNAs can directly regulate transcription in trans by interacting with chromatin genome-wide independently of their sites of synthesis. Here, we describe the genomically local and more distal functions of Paupar, a vertebrate-conserved and central nervous system-expressed lncRNA transcribed from a locus upstream of the gene encoding the PAX6 transcription factor. Knockdown of Paupar disrupts the normal cell cycle profile of neuroblastoma cells and induces neural differentiation. Paupar acts in a transcript-dependent manner both locally, to regulate Pax6, as well as distally by binding and regulating genes on multiple chromosomes, in part through physical association with PAX6 protein. Paupar binding sites are enriched near promoters and can function as transcriptional regulatory elements whose activity is modulated by Paupar transcript levels. Our findings demonstrate that a lncRNA can function in trans at transcriptional regulatory elements distinct from its site of synthesis to control large-scale transcriptional programmes.

Zhao X, Yue W, Zhang L, et al.
Downregulation of PAX6 by shRNA inhibits proliferation and cell cycle progression of human non-small cell lung cancer cell lines.
PLoS One. 2014; 9(1):e85738 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 15/03/2015 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: The transcription factor PAX6 is primarily expressed in embryos. PAX6 is also expressed in several tumors and plays an oncogenic role. However, little is known about the role of PAX6 in lung cancer.
METHODS: The function of PAX6 in lung cancer cells was evaluated by small interfering RNA-mediated depletion of the protein followed by analyses of cell proliferation, anchorage-independent growth, and cell cycle arrest. The changes of cyclin D1, pRB, ERK1/2, p38 expression caused by PAX6 inhibition were detected using western-blotting. The PAX6 mRNA level in 52 pairs of tumors and corresponding matched adjacent normal tissues from non-small cell lung cancer patients and lung cancer cell lines was detected by real-time PCR.
RESULTS: Suppression of PAX6 expression inhibited cell growth and colony formation in A549 and H1299 cells. The percentage of cells in G1-phase increased when PAX6 expression was inhibited. The cyclin D1 protein level, as well as the pRB phosphorylation level, decreased as a result of PAX6 down-regulation. The activity of ERK1/2 and p38 was also suppressed in PAX6 knock-down cells. The PAX6 mRNA was highly expressed in lung cancer tissue and lung cancer cell lines. In most patients (about 65%), the relative ratio of PAX6 mRNA in primary NSCLC versus adjacent tissues exceeded 100.
CONCLUSIONS: Our data implicated that PAX6 accelerates cell cycle progression by activating MAPK signal pathway. PAX6 mRNA levels were significantly elevated in primary lung cancer tissues compared to their matched adjacent tissues.

Yamamoto T, Togawa M, Shimada S, et al.
Narrowing of the responsible region for severe developmental delay and autistic behaviors in WAGR syndrome down to 1.6 Mb including PAX6, WT1, and PRRG4.
Am J Med Genet A. 2014; 164A(3):634-8 [PubMed] Related Publications
Interstitial deletions of the 11p13 region are known to cause WAGR (Wilms tumor, aniridia, genitourinary malformation, and "mental retardation") syndrome, a contiguous gene deletion syndrome due to haploinsufficiencies of the genes in this region, including WT1 and PAX6. Developmental delay and autistic features are major complications of this syndrome. Previously, some genes located in this region have been suggested as responsible for autistic features. In this study, we identified two patients who showed the chromosomal deletions involving 11p13. Patient 1, having an 8.6 Mb deletion of chr11p14.1p12:29,676,434-38,237,948, exhibited a phenotype typical of WAGR syndrome and had severe developmental delay and autistic behaviors. On the other hand, Patient 2 had a larger aberration region in 11p14.1-p12 which was split into two regions, that is, a 2.2-Mb region of chr11p14.1: 29,195,161-31,349,732 and a 10.5-Mb region of chr11p13p12: 32,990,627-43,492,580. As a consequence, 1.6 Mb region of the WAGR syndrome critical region was intact between the two deletions. This patient showed no symptom of WAGR syndrome and no autistic behaviors. Therefore, the region responsible for severe developmental delay and autistic features on WAGR syndrome can be narrowed down to the region remaining intact in Patient 2. Thus, the unique genotype identified in this study suggested that haploinsufficiencies of PAX6 or PRRG4 included in this region are candidate genes for severe developmental delay and autistic features characteristic of WAGR syndrome.

Li Y, Li Y, Liu Y, et al.
PAX6, a novel target of microRNA-7, promotes cellular proliferation and invasion in human colorectal cancer cells.
Dig Dis Sci. 2014; 59(3):598-606 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Paired box 6 (PAX6), a highly conserved transcriptional factor, has been implicated in tumorigenesis.
AIM: We aimed to explore the roles and molecular mechanisms of PAX6 and microRNA (miR-7) in colorectal cancer cells.
METHODS: Tissue microarray immunohistochemistry and Western blot were applied to examine the PAX6 expression. Real-time RT-PCR and Western blot were performed to determine the expression of miR-7 and PAX6. Luciferase reporter assay was used to determine whether PAX6 was a target of miR-7. Effects of miR-7 and PAX6 on colorectal cell proliferation, cell cycle progression, colony formation and invasion were then investigated. Western blot was used to determine the activities of the ERK and PI3K signal pathways, as well as the protein expression of MMP2 and MMP9.
RESULTS: The protein levels of PAX6 were gradually increased, while the expression of miR-7 was gradually reduced with malignancy of colorectal cancer. PAX6 was further identified as a target of miR-7, and its protein expression was negatively regulated by miR-7 in human colorectal cancer cells. Overexpression of PAX6 in Caco-2 and SW480 cells enhanced cellular proliferation, cell cycle progression, colony formation, and invasion, while miR-7 upregulation repressed these biological processes. Furthermore, the activities of ERK and PI3K signal pathways, as well as the protein levels of MMP2 and MMP9, were upregulated in PAX6-overexpressed Caco-2 and SW480 cells but deregulated in miR-7-overexpressed Caco-2 and SW480 cells.
CONCLUSIONS: Our study suggests that as a novel target of miR-7, PAX6 may serve as a promising therapeutic target for colorectal cancer.

Huang BS, Luo QZ, Han Y, et al.
microRNA-223 promotes the growth and invasion of glioblastoma cells by targeting tumor suppressor PAX6.
Oncol Rep. 2013; 30(5):2263-9 [PubMed] Related Publications
Glioblastoma is the most common primary central nervous system malignancy and its unique invasiveness hinders effective treatment. Its high invasiveness may be controlled partly by microRNAs (miRNAs, miRs) and their target genes. In the present study, we found that increased miR-223 expression and reduced PAX6 expression coexisted in glioblastoma as detected by quantitative PCR or tissue microarrays. We confirmed that miR-223 directly targets PAX6 through binding to its 3'-UTR using dual luciferase reporter assay. In U251 and U373 glioblastoma cells, overexpression of miR-223 decreased PAX6 mRNA and protein expression; however, inhibition of miR-223 increased PAX6 mRNA and protein expression. Moreover, overexpression of miR-223 led to effects similar to those of PAX6 knockdown: increased cell viability, increased percentage of cells in the G1 phase and increased cell invasiveness parallel with increased MMP2, MMP9 and VEGFA expression. In addition, inhibition of miR-223 resulted in effects similar to those of PAX6 overexpression: decreased cell viability, decreased percentage of cells in the G1 phase and decreased cell invasiveness parallel with reduced MMP2, MMP9 and VEGFA expression. The data presented here suggest that miR-223 promotes the growth and invasion of U251 and U373 glioblastoma cells by targeting PAX6, which serves as a tumor suppressor in glioblastoma exerting the functions of inhibition of cell cycle transition, and the expression of MMP2, MMP9 and VEGFA. In conclusion, the present study supports miR-223 and PAX6 as novel therapeutic targets for glioblastoma.

Wang J, Wang X, Wu G, et al.
MiR-365b-3p, down-regulated in retinoblastoma, regulates cell cycle progression and apoptosis of human retinoblastoma cells by targeting PAX6.
FEBS Lett. 2013; 587(12):1779-86 [PubMed] Related Publications
PAX6 contributes to the development and progression of retinoblastoma (RB), but the molecular mechanism underlying the regulation of PAX6 expression is unclear. Here we found that microRNA-365b-3p (miR-365b-3p) is downregulated in human RB tissues. Ectopic expression of miR-365b-3p significantly attenuates cell growth, induces cell cycle arrest in G1 phase and cell apoptosis through inhibiting the expression of PAX6 by directly binding its 3' untranslated regions. Furthermore, overexpression of miR-365b-3p upregulates p21 and p27 but downregulates cdc2 and Cyclin D1 protein levels. Elucidating the regulatory mechanism of PAX6 by microRNAs may give new clues to the therapy against RB.

Cui L, Guan Y, Qu Z, et al.
WNT signaling determines tumorigenicity and function of ESC-derived retinal progenitors.
J Clin Invest. 2013; 123(4):1647-61 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 15/03/2015 Related Publications
Tumor formation constitutes a major obstacle to the clinical application of embryonic stem cell-derived (ESC-derived) cells. In an attempt to find major extracellular signaling and intrinsic factors controlling tumorigenicity and therapeutic functionality of transplanted ESC-derived retinal progenitor cells (ESC-RPCs), we evaluated multiple kinds of ESC-RPCs in a mouse retinal degeneration model and conducted genome-wide gene expression profiling. We identified canonical WNT signaling as a critical determinant for the tumorigenicity and therapeutic function of ESC-RPCs. The function of WNT signaling is primarily mediated by TCF7, which directly induces expression of Sox2 and Nestin. Inhibition of WNT signaling, overexpression of dominant-negative Tcf7, and silencing Tcf7, Sox2, or Nestin all resulted in drastically reduced tumor formation and substantially improved retinal integration and visual preservation in mice. These results demonstrate that the WNT signaling cascade plays a critical role in modulating the tumorigenicity and functionality of ESC-derived progenitors.

Rodríguez-López R, Pérez JM, Balsera AM, et al.
The modifier effect of the BDNF gene in the phenotype of the WAGRO syndrome.
Gene. 2013; 516(2):285-90 [PubMed] Related Publications
Individuals who are carriers of deletions of various sizes that cause haploinsufficiency in the contiguous WT1 and PAX6 genes, located on chromosome 11p13 approximately 4 Mb centromeric to the BDNF gene, are susceptible to Wilms tumor, aniridia, mental retardation, genitourinary anomalies and obesity (WAGRO syndrome). The molecular characterization of the wide deletion 11p15.1p12 arr (18676926-36576388) x1 dn in a child with 3 years and 4 months of age only affected by aniridia, predicts not only other serious associated diseases, but also allows us to hypothesize a specific phenotype of mental impairment, conduct alterations and childhood obesity, possibly added to the onset of metabolic alterations. The variable appearance and/or description of haploinsufficiency for obesity susceptibility in the WAGR syndrome mainly depends on the critical region located within 80 kb of exon 1 of BDNF. The relationship between genetic variation based on the genotype combinations of the 4 gene SNPs tagging the BDNF gene and the body mass index (BMI) was studied. The polymorphic variability was similarly distributed in 218 children suffering a severe and non-syndromic obesity from families at high risk for obesity, as compared with 198 controls. The corroborated role of the BDNF gene as highly susceptible to severe syndromic obesity has not already been evidenced in the molecular basis of overweight attributed to the common polygenic principles. Its potential role as risk modifier variant to provoke more severe phenotype has not yet been demonstrated. Some genetic variants of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) have resulted in important disorders of energy balance, but it is essential to know exactly their deleterious human capacity because they play a fundamental role in the development and plasticity of the central nervous system in regulating food intake. The existence of polymorphic amino acid changes of unknown functional significance in patients carrying the haploinsufficiency of the BDNF gene could constitute an adequate model to study in depth their effects.

Bejjani A, Choi MR, Cassidy L, et al.
RB116: an RB1+ retinoblastoma cell line expressing primitive markers.
Mol Vis. 2012; 18:2805-13 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 15/03/2015 Related Publications
PURPOSE: Retinoblastoma (RB), an intraocular tumor of childhood, is commonly associated with mutations in the RB1 gene. RB116 is a novel, early passage RB cell line that has not been previously characterized. In this study, we examined RB116 for the expression of RB1 and tested the hypothesis that RB116 cells would express stem cell markers as well as retinal progenitor cell markers. We compared RB116 cells with other well known RB cell lines, including Y79 and WERI-RB27.
METHODS: We evaluated expression of RB1 in RB116 cells by sequencing, multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification, quantitative reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR), western immunoblot, and immunocytochemistry. Next, RB116 cells, along with Y79 and WERI-RB27 cells, were examined for expression of stem cell markers (ABCG2, Nanog, Oct3/4, ALDH1A1) and retinal progenitor markers (PAX6, CHX10) by quantitative immunocytochemistry. Immunocytochemical findings were accompanied by PCR analysis.
RESULTS: RB116 cells expressed RB1 at the mRNA and protein levels, with no mutations detected by either sequencing analysis, or gene dosage abnormalities detected by multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification. The RB1 protein was immunoreactive in RB116 cells with an atypical perinuclear localization. RB116 cells also expressed stem cell markers, with 3%-5% of cells immunopositive for ABCG2, Oct3/4 and ALDH1A1, with at least 18% of cells immunoreactive to Nanog. These findings were confirmed by RT-PCR. Small percentages of RB116 cells also exhibited immunoreactivity to retinal progenitor markers PAX6 (9.8%) and CHX10 (1.2%). Expression of mRNAs for these markers was confirmed by qRT-PCR.
CONCLUSIONS: RB116 cells demonstrate RB1 expression accompanied by atypical perinuclear localization. RB116 cells also express primitive stem cell and retinal progenitor cell markers. Further studies on the phenotypes of both RB1-positive and RB1-negative human RB cells may be important in assessing differentiation potential of these cells, as well as designing targeted differentiation therapies.

Lin J, Teo S, Lam DH, et al.
MicroRNA-10b pleiotropically regulates invasion, angiogenicity and apoptosis of tumor cells resembling mesenchymal subtype of glioblastoma multiforme.
Cell Death Dis. 2012; 3:e398 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 15/03/2015 Related Publications
Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is a heterogeneous disease despite its seemingly uniform pathology. Deconvolution of The Cancer Genome Atlas's GBM gene expression data has unveiled the existence of distinct gene expression signature underlying discrete GBM subtypes. Recent conflicting findings proposed that microRNA (miRNA)-10b exclusively regulates glioma growth or invasion but not both. We showed that silencing of miRNA-10b by baculoviral decoy vectors in a glioma cell line resembling the mesenchymal subtype of GBM reduces its growth, invasion and angiogenesis while promoting apoptosis in vitro. In an orthotopic human glioma mouse model, inhibition of miRNA-10b diminishes the invasiveness, angiogenicity and growth of the mesenchymal subtype-like glioma cells in the brain and significantly prolonged survival of glioma-bearing mice. We demonstrated that the pleiotropic nature of miRNA-10b was due to its suppression of multiple tumor suppressors, including TP53, FOXO3, CYLD, PAX6, PTCH1, HOXD10 and NOTCH1. In particular, siRNA-mediated knockdown experiments identified TP53, PAX6, NOTCH1 and HOXD10 as invasion regulatory genes in our mesenchymal subtype-like glioma cells. By interrogating the REMBRANDT, we noted that dysregulation of many direct targets of miRNA-10b was associated with significantly poorer patient survival. Thus, our study uncovers a novel role for miRNA-10b in regulating angiogenesis and suggests that miRNA-10b may be a pleiotropic regulator of gliomagenesis.

Shahi MH, Rey JA, Castresana JS
The sonic hedgehog-GLI1 signaling pathway in brain tumor development.
Expert Opin Ther Targets. 2012; 16(12):1227-38 [PubMed] Related Publications
INTRODUCTION: The sonic hedgehog (Shh) pathway is a regulatory network involved in development and cancer. Proteins like Ptch, SMO, and Gli are central to the Shh pathway. Other proteins like HHIP, SUFU, Bmi-1, Cyclin D2, Plakoglobin, PAX6, Nkx2.2, and SFRP1 are not so well understood in Shh regulation as Gli-1 downstream target genes.
AREAS COVERED: In this review we try to explain the Shh pathway components and their role in development and cancer, mainly of the brain. A summary of each of the proteins is presented together with an overview of their involvement in cancer.
EXPERT OPINION: Genetic alterations of the Shh pathway have been detected in cancer stem cells, a subgroup of tumor cells implicated in the origin and maintenance of tumors, being responsible for cancer recurrence and chemotherapy resistance. Cancer stem cells constitute a novel target for biomedical researchers. Specifically, the Shh pathway is being explored as a new opportunity for targeted therapies against tumors. Therefore, a better knowledge of every of the regulators of the Shh pathway is needed.

Shimoda M, Sugiura T, Imajyo I, et al.
The T-box transcription factor Brachyury regulates epithelial-mesenchymal transition in association with cancer stem-like cells in adenoid cystic carcinoma cells.
BMC Cancer. 2012; 12:377 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 15/03/2015 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: The high frequencies of recurrence and distant metastasis of adenoid cystic carcinoma (AdCC) emphasize the need to better understand the biological factors associated with these outcomes. To analyze the mechanisms of AdCC metastasis, we established the green fluorescence protein (GFP)-transfected subline ACCS-GFP from the AdCC parental cell line and the metastatic ACCS-M GFP line from an in vivo metastasis model.
METHODS: Using these cell lines, we investigated the involvement of the epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and cancer stem cell (CSCs) in AdCC metastasis by real-time RT-PCR for EMT related genes and stem cell markers. Characteristics of CSCs were also analyzed by sphere-forming ability and tumorigenicity. Short hairpin RNA (shRNA) silencing of target gene was also performed.
RESULTS: ACCS-M GFP demonstrated characteristics of EMT and additionally displayed sphere-forming ability and high expression of EMT-related genes (Snail, Twist1, Twist2, Slug, zinc finger E-box binding homeobox 1 and 2 [Zeb1 and Zeb2], glycogen synthase kinase 3 beta [Gsk3β and transforming growth factor beta 2 [Tgf-β2]), stem cell markers (Nodal, Lefty, Oct-4, Pax6, Rex1, and Nanog), and differentiation markers (sex determining region Y [Sox2], Brachyury, and alpha fetoprotein [Afp]). These observations suggest that ACCS-M GFP shows the characteristics of CSCs and CSCs may be involved in the EMT of AdCC. Surprisingly, shRNA silencing of the T-box transcription factor Brachyury (also a differentiation marker) resulted in downregulation of the EMT and stem cell markers. In addition, sphere-forming ability, EMT characteristics, and tumorigenicity were simultaneously lost. Brachyury expression in clinical samples of AdCC was extremely high and closely related to EMT. This finding suggests that regulation of EMT by Brachyury in clinical AdCC may parallel that observed in vitro in this study.
CONCLUSIONS: The use of a single cell line is a limitation of this study. However, parallel data from in vitro and clinical samples suggest the possibility that EMT is directly linked to CSCs and that Brachyury is a regulator of EMT and CSCs.

de Thonel A, Le Mouël A, Mezger V
Transcriptional regulation of small HSP-HSF1 and beyond.
Int J Biochem Cell Biol. 2012; 44(10):1593-612 [PubMed] Related Publications
The members of the small heat shock protein (sHSP) family are molecular chaperones that play major roles in development, stress responses, and diseases, and have been envisioned as targets for therapy, particularly in cancer. The molecular mechanisms that regulate their transcription, in normal, stress, or pathological conditions, are characterized by extreme complexity and subtlety. Although historically linked to the heat shock transcription factors (HSFs), the stress-induced or developmental expression of the diverse members, including HSPB1/Hsp27/Hsp25, αA-crystallin/HSPB4, and αB-crystallin/HSPB5, relies on the combinatory effects of many transcription factors. Coupled with remarkably different cis-element architectures in the sHsp regulatory regions, they confer to each member its developmental expression or stress-inducibility. For example, multiple regulatory pathways coordinate the spatio-temporal expression of mouse αA-, αB-crystallin, and Hsp25 genes during lens development, through the action of master genes, like the large Maf family proteins and Pax6, but also HSF4. The inducibility of Hsp27 and αB-crystallin transcription by various stresses is exerted by HSF-dependent mechanisms, by which concomitant induction of Hsp27 and αB-crystallin expression is observed. In contrast, HSF-independent pathways can lead to αB-crystallin expression, but not to Hsp27 induction. Not surprisingly, deregulation of the expression of sHSP is associated with various pathologies, including cancer, neurodegenerative, or cardiac diseases. However, many questions remain to be addressed, and further elucidation of the developmental mechanisms of sHsp gene transcription might help to unravel the tissue- and stage-specific functions of this fascinating class of proteins, which might prove to be crucial for future therapeutic strategies. This article is part of a Directed Issue entitled: Small HSPs in physiology and pathology.

Hingorani M, Hanson I, van Heyningen V
Eur J Hum Genet. 2012; 20(10):1011-7 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 15/03/2015 Related Publications
Aniridia is a rare congenital disorder in which there is a variable degree of hypoplasia or the absence of iris tissue associated with multiple other ocular changes, some present from birth and some arising progressively over time. Most cases are associated with dominantly inherited mutations or deletions of the PAX6 gene. This article will review the clinical manifestations, the molecular basis including genotype-phenotype correlations, diagnostic approaches and management of aniridia.

Liu RZ, Monckton EA, Godbout R
Regulation of the FABP7 gene by PAX6 in malignant glioma cells.
Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2012; 422(3):482-7 [PubMed] Related Publications
Brain fatty acid-binding protein (FABP7) and PAX6 are both expressed in radial glial cells and have been implicated in neurogenesis and glial cell differentiation. FABP7 and PAX6 have also been postulated to play a role in malignant glioma cell growth and invasion. Here, we address the role of PAX6 in regulating FABP7 gene expression in malignant glioma cells. We report that PAX6 and FABP7 RNA are generally co-expressed in malignant glioma cell lines, tumors and tumor neurospheres. Using the CAT reporter gene assay, we show that FABP7 promoter activity is upregulated by PAX6. Sequential deletion analysis of the FABP7 promoter, combined with gel shift and supershift assays demonstrate the presence of a PAX6 responsive region located upstream of the FABP7 gene, at -862 to -1033 bp. Inclusion of sequences between -1.2 and -1.8 kb reduced CAT activity, suggesting the presence of a repressor element within this region. While PAX6 overexpression did not induce endogenous FABP7 expression in FABP7-negative cells, knock-down of PAX6 in PAX6-positive malignant glioma cells resulted in reduced FABP7 levels. These data provide the first evidence of direct transactivation of the FABP7 proximal promoter by PAX6 and suggest a synergistic mechanism for PAX6 and other co-factor(s) in regulating FABP7 expression in malignant glioma.

Lian ZQ, Wang Q, Li WP, et al.
Screening of significantly hypermethylated genes in breast cancer using microarray-based methylated-CpG island recovery assay and identification of their expression levels.
Int J Oncol. 2012; 41(2):629-38 [PubMed] Related Publications
To screen candidate methylation markers for early detection of breast cancer and to explore the relationship between methylation and gene expression, we performed methylated-CpG island recovery assay (MIRA) combined with CpG island array on 61982 CpG sites across 4162 genes in 10 cancerous and 10 non-cancerous breast tissues. Direct bisulfite sequencing and combined bisulfite restriction analysis (COBRA) were carried out in independent cancerous and non-cancerous samples. Gene expression was analyzed by microarrays and validated using RT-PCR. We detected 70 significantly hypermethylated genes in breast cancer tissues, including many novel hypermethylated genes such as ITGA4, NFIX, OTX2 and FGF12. Direct bisulfite sequencing showed widespread methylation occurring in intragenic regions of the WT1, PAX6 and ITGA4 genes and in the promoter region of the OTX2 gene in breast cancer tissues. COBRA assay confirmed that the WT1, OTX2 and PAX6 genes were hypermethylated in breast cancer tissues. Clustering analysis of the gene expression of 70 significantly hypermethylated genes revealed that most hypermethylated genes in breast cancer were not expressed in breast tissues. RT-PCR assay confirmed that WT1 and PITX2 were only weakly expressed in the breast cancer tissues and were not expressed in most non-cancerous breast tissues. OTX2 and PAX6 were not expressed in either breast cancer or non-cancerous tissues. In conclusion, these results will expand our knowledge of hypermethylated genes and methylation sites for early detection of breast cancer and deepen our understanding of the relationship between methylation and gene expression. The MIRA approach can screen candidate methylated genes for further clinical validation more effectively than gene expression microarray-based strategy.

Wadhwa L, Bond WS, Perlaky L, et al.
Embryonic retinal tumors in SV40 T-Ag transgenic mice contain CD133+ tumor-initiating cells.
Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2012; 53(7):3454-62 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 15/03/2015 Related Publications
PURPOSE: Human retinoblastomas form during the proliferative phase of retina development and are caused by mutations that result in absent or functionally defective Rb protein. Similar tumors occur in mice only when multiple Rb gene family members are absent. We asked if retinal tumors can arise from an undifferentiated retinal cell. The tumor-initiating cells isolated from these tumors that formed in early embryonic murine retinas were characterized.
METHODS: Transgenic mice were created using a Pax6 promoter to target expression of SV40 large T-antigen (T-Ag) in the undifferentiated murine embryonic retina. T-Ag, which sequesters all Rb family proteins and p53, is expressed in the retina and lens by murine embryonic day 10 (E10) and tumors are observed by E12.5. A cell line that is adherent in serum-containing media and forms neurospheres in supplemented serum-free media was developed from retinal tumors isolated on postnatal day 7.
RESULTS: In all, 1.5% of attached cells form neurospheres when transferred to serum-free medium. All cultured cells express T-Ag, confirming that they derive from the original tumors; 0.5% of adherent cells express detectable levels of CD133. CD133+ FACS-sorted cells cultured in serum-free medium form 3-fold more neurospheres than do CD133- cells. Six of seven mice injected with CD133+ cells and one of seven mice injected with CD133- cells formed tumors during a 6-month period. Unlike primary adherent cells, primary and secondary tumors heterogeneously express markers of stem cells and differentiation similar to human retinoblastoma.
CONCLUSIONS: CD133+ tumor-initiating cells can originate from proliferating undifferentiated precursor cells.

Appolloni I, Calzolari F, Barilari M, et al.
Antagonistic modulation of gliomagenesis by Pax6 and Olig2 in PDGF-induced oligodendroglioma.
Int J Cancer. 2012; 131(7):E1078-87 [PubMed] Related Publications
Gliomas are aggressive tumors of the central nervous system originating from proliferating neural cells. Regulators of neural stem or progenitor cells biology may thus influence aspects of brain tumorigenesis, such as the maintenance of tumor-propagating potential. We investigated the role of Pax6, a neurogenic transcription factor already suggested as a positive prognostic marker for human gliomas, in a well-characterized in vivo model of PDGF-B-driven oligodendroglioma. In this system, the expression of Pax6 severely impairs tumor propagation by inducing a reduction of cell proliferation and the acquisition of differentiation traits in tumor-initiating cells. The overexpression of Pax6 correlates with a downregulation of Olig2, a bHLH transcription factor that normally antagonizes Pax6 in adult neurogenic niches and that plays a key role in the maintenance of neural stem and progenitor cells. Furthermore, we found that Olig2 is strictly required to maintain the malignancy of oligodendroglioma cells, since its silencing by interfering RNA abrogates tumor propagation. We finally show evidence that this function depends, at least in part, on the silencing of ID4, a dominant negative bHLH protein, whose upregulation follows Olig2 loss. In our model, the upregulation of ID4 mimics the loss of Olig2 in impairing the tumor-propagating potential of glioma cells. Our data, therefore, establish the relevance of physiological regulators of neural stem cell biology in regulating glial tumor malignancy and provide support for their functional interactions in this context.

Grammel D, Warmuth-Metz M, von Bueren AO, et al.
Sonic hedgehog-associated medulloblastoma arising from the cochlear nuclei of the brainstem.
Acta Neuropathol. 2012; 123(4):601-14 [PubMed] Related Publications
Medulloblastoma is a malignant brain tumor of childhood that comprises at least four molecularly distinct subgroups. We have previously described that cerebellar granule neuron precursors may give rise to the subgroup with a molecular fingerprint of Sonic hedgehog (Shh) signaling. Other recent data indicate that precursor cells within the dorsal brain stem may serve as cellular origins for Wnt-associated medulloblastomas. To see whether Shh-associated medulloblastomas are also able to develop in the dorsal brainstem, we analyzed two lines of transgenic mice with constitutive Shh signaling in hGFAP- and Math1-positive brainstem precursor populations, respectively. Our results show that in both of these lines, medulloblastomas arise from granule neuron precursors of the cochlear nuclei, a derivative of the auditory lower rhombic lip. This region is distinct from derivatives of precerebellar lower rhombic lip where medulloblastomas arise in mice with constitutive-active Wnt signaling. With respect to their histology and the expression of appropriate markers, Shh tumors from the murine cochlear nuclei perfectly resemble human Shh-associated medulloblastomas. Moreover, we find that in a series of 63 human desmoplastic medulloblastomas, 21 (33%) have a very close contact to the cochlear nuclei on MR imaging. In conclusion, we demonstrate that precursors of the murine rhombic lip, which either develop into cerebellar or into cochlear granule neurons, may give rise to Shh-associated medulloblastoma, and this has important implications for the cellular origin of human medulloblastomas.

Yao D, Shi J, Shi B, et al.
Quantitative assessment of gene methylation and their impact on clinical outcome in gastric cancer.
Clin Chim Acta. 2012; 413(7-8):787-94 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Promoter methylation is an alternative mechanism of gene silencing in human tumorigenesis. Although a number of methylated genes have been found in gastric cancer, useful methylation markers for early diagnosis and prognostic evaluation of this cancer remain largely unknown.
METHODS: Using quantitative methylation-specific PCR (Q-MSP), we examined promoter methylation of 6 genes, including CALCA, DAPK1, RARbeta, RASSF1A, TIMP3, and PAX6, and explored their association with clinical outcome in gastric cancer.
RESULTS: We found that most of the genes investigated in the present study had significantly higher methylation level in tumor tissues than normal gastric tissues, including CALCA, RARbeta, RASSF1A, TIMP3, and PAX6. With more focus on specificity compared to sensitivity, all genes were hypermethylated in gastric cancer, ranging from 12.8% to 36.9%. Methylation of TIMP3 and PAX6 was strongly associated with differentiation and lymph node metastasis, respectively. Importantly, most of gene methylation, except for DAPK1, was closely associated with poor survival in gastric cancer.
CONCLUSION: We found that a panel of genes was specifically methylated in gastric cancer, and demonstrated the effect of promoter methylation of some genes on clinical outcome in gastric cancer, indicating these methylated genes may be useful biomarkers for prognostic evaluation in this cancer.

Pesek M, Kopeckova M, Benesova L, et al.
Clinical significance of hypermethylation status in NSCLC: evaluation of a 30-gene panel in patients with advanced disease.
Anticancer Res. 2011; 31(12):4647-52 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: DNA methylation is one of major factors in cancer progression. We observed multiple genes involved in cancer-related signaling and focused on patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and evaluated methylation in relation to various clinical parameters.
PATIENTS AND METHODS: Thirty genes were examined in 121 NSCLC patients using the methylation-specific multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification (MS-MLPA) method. Correlations to gender, smoking status, tumor subtype, disease stage and EGFR/KRAS mutation status were performed by chi-square test.
RESULTS: 90% of tumors exhibited methylation of at least one gene. Most frequently methylated were cadherin-13 (CDH13), Ras associated domain-containing protein (RASSF1A), Wilms' tumor protein (WT1), adenomatous polyposis coli protein (APC), paired box protein Pax-5 (PAX5), estrogen receptor (ESR1), an inhibitor of cyclin-dependent kinase p15 (CDKN2B), paired box protein Pax-6 (PAX6), transcription factor GATA-5 (GATA5) and cell adhesion molecule 4 (IGSF4). Overall methylation (any gene) was increased in adenocarcinomas (p=0.0329), unrelated to gender or disease stage. Several genes exhibited variable methylation with gender (CDH13, p<0.001; GATA5, p=0.02; PAX6, p=0.01 and ESR1, p=0.03), smoking (CDH13, p=0.002), or epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) mutation status [Von Hippel-Lindau disease tumor supresor (VHL), p=0.001; CDKN2B, p=0.02; CDH13, p=0.02; APC, p=0.04 and ESR1, p=0.04].
CONCLUSION: Differences in gene methylation associated with gender, smoking and EGFR mutation suggest potential for prediction in relation to management of tyrosine kinase inhibitor therapy.

Rauch TA, Wang Z, Wu X, et al.
DNA methylation biomarkers for lung cancer.
Tumour Biol. 2012; 33(2):287-96 [PubMed] Related Publications
Changes in DNA methylation patterns are an important characteristic of human cancer including lung cancer. In particular, hypermethylation of CpG islands is a signature of malignant progression. Methylated CpG islands are promising diagnostic markers for the early detection of cancer. However, the full extent and sequence context of DNA hypermethylation in lung cancer has remained unknown. We have used the methylated CpG island recovery assay and high-resolution microarray analysis to find hypermethylated CpG islands in squamous cell carcinomas (SCC) and adenocarcinomas of the lung. Each tumor contained several hundred hypermethylated CpG islands. In an initial microarray screen, 36 CpG islands were methylated in five of five (=100%) of the SCC tumors tested and 52 CpG islands were methylated in at least 75% of the adenocarcinomas tested (n=8). Using sodium-bisulfite-based approaches, 12 CpG islands (associated with the BARHL2, EVX2, IRX2, MEIS1, MSX1, NR2E1, OC2, OSR1, OTX1, PAX6, TFAP2A, and ZNF577 genes) were confirmed to be methylated in 85% to 100% of the squamous cell carcinomas and 11 CpG islands (associated with the CHAD, DLX4, GRIK2, KCNG3, NR2E1, OSR1, OTX1, OTX2, PROX1, RUNX1, and VAX1 genes) were methylated in >80% of the adenocarcinomas. From the list of genes that were methylated in lung adenocarcinomas, we identified the gene FAT4 and found that this gene was methylated in 39% of the tumors. FAT4 is the closest mammalian homologue of the Drosophila tumor suppressor Fat which is an important component of the Hippo growth control pathway. Many of these newly discovered methylated CpG islands hold promise for becoming biomarkers for the early detection of lung cancer.

Xiang C, Baubet V, Pal S, et al.
RP58/ZNF238 directly modulates proneurogenic gene levels and is required for neuronal differentiation and brain expansion.
Cell Death Differ. 2012; 19(4):692-702 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 15/03/2015 Related Publications
Although neurogenic pathways have been described in the developing neocortex, less is known about mechanisms ensuring correct neuronal differentiation thus also preventing tumor growth. We have shown that RP58 (aka zfp238 or znf238) is highly expressed in differentiating neurons, that its expression is lost or diminished in brain tumors, and that its reintroduction blocks their proliferation. Mice with loss of RP58 die at birth with neocortical defects. Using a novel conditional RP58 allele here we show that its CNS-specific loss yields a novel postnatal phenotype: microencephaly, agenesis of the corpus callosum and cerebellar hypoplasia that resembles the chr1qter deletion microcephaly syndrome in human. RP58 mutant brains maintain precursor pools but have reduced neuronal and increased glial differentiation. Well-timed downregulation of pax6, ngn2 and neuroD1 depends on RP58 mediated transcriptional repression, ngn2 and neuroD1 being direct targets. Thus, RP58 may act to favor neuronal differentiation and brain growth by coherently repressing multiple proneurogenic genes in a timely manner.

Pauklin M, Thomasen H, Pester A, et al.
Expression of pluripotency and multipotency factors in human ocular surface tissues.
Curr Eye Res. 2011; 36(12):1086-97 [PubMed] Related Publications
AIM: Mechanisms that control ocular surface stem cells (SCs) are unclear. Recent studies have shown that several adult SCs express pluripotency markers. Our objective was to analyze the expression of key molecules of pluripotency in human ocular surface tissues as well as in cultivated limbal epithelium.
METHODS: Four samples of human corneal, limbal and on amniotic membrane cultivated limbal epithelium (HLEC-AM), as well as bulbar and fornical conjunctiva were analyzed. Human embryonic stem (ES) cells and human umbilical vein endothelial cells served as controls. Expression of corneal epithelial differentiation markers (K3, K12, Cx43), putative limbal SC markers (ABCG2, p63, K15), and molecules associated with pluripotency/multipotency (NANOG, OCT4, SOX2, KLF4, KIT, NESTIN, PAX6, NOTCH1) was examined using real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and immunohistochemical staining.
RESULTS: Limbal epithelium showed a significantly (p < 0.05) higher expression of K15, ABCG2, OCT4, SOX2, NESTIN and NOTCH1, but a lower expression of K3 than corneal epithelium. Besides a higher expression of ABCG2 in fornix, the expression of pluripotency markers was similar in both conjunctival regions, although lower than in limbal epithelium. Expression of pluripotency factors in ES cells was significantly higher than in ocular surface SCs, whereas the expression in limbal epithelium was the closest to ES cells. HLEC-AM in comparison to limbal epithelium showed a lower expression of differentiation markers, a similar expression of ABCG2 but a significantly lower expression of pluripotency factors.
CONCLUSION: Human ocular surface epithelial cells and especially limbal epithelial cell express genes are important for pluripotency and may have preserved some common mechanisms with pluripotent SCs.

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