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      Septo-Optic Dysplasia – Novel Insights into the Aetiology


      Hormone Research in Paediatrics

      S. Karger AG

      HESX1, SOX2, SOX3, Septo-optic dysplasia, Pituitary

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          Septo-optic dysplasia (SOD) is a highly heterogeneous condition comprising a variable phenotype of optic nerve hypoplasia, midline brain abnormalities and pituitary hypoplasia with consequent endocrine deficits. The majority of cases are sporadic and several aetiologies have been suggested to account for the pathogenesis of the condition. However, a number of familial cases have been described and the identification of mutations in key developmental genes including HESX1, SOX2 and SOX3 in patients with SOD and associated phenotypes suggests that a genetic causation is likely in the more common sporadic cases of the condition. The precise aetiology of SOD is most likely multifactorial involving contributions from environmental factors in addition to an important role for crucial developmental genes. The variability of the penetrance and phenotypes within a single SOD pedigree may also suggest a complex interaction between genetics and the environment, and at present, the understanding of these interactions is rudimentary. Further study of these critical factors may shed light on the aetiology of this complex disorder. We have reviewed recent literature selecting relevant references based on the keywords HESX1, SOX2, SOX3, Septo-optic dysplasia, genetics and pituitary development.

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          Most cited references 34

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          Phylogeny of the SOX family of developmental transcription factors based on sequence and structural indicators.

          Members of the SOX family of transcription factors are found throughout the animal kingdom, are characterized by the presence of a DNA-binding HMG domain, and are involved in a diverse range of developmental processes. Previous attempts to group SOX genes and deduce their structural, functional, and evolutionary relationships have relied largely on complete or partial HMG box sequence of a limited number of genes. In this study, we have used complete HMG domain sequence, full-length protein structure, and gene organization data to study the pattern of evolution within the family. For the first time, a substantial number of invertebrate SOX sequences have been included in the analysis. We find support for subdivision of the family into groups A-H, as has been suggested in some previous studies, and for the assignment of two new groups, I and J. For vertebrate genes, it appears that relatedness as suggested by HMG domain sequence is congruent with relatedness as indicated by overall structure of the full-length protein and intron-exon structure of the genes. Most of the SOX groups identified in vertebrates were represented by a single SOX sequence in each invertebrate species studied. We have named anonymous sequences and, where appropriate, have suggested systematic names for some previously identified sequences. In addition, we identify an HMG domain signature motif which may be considered representative of the SOX family. Based on our data, we propose a robust phylogeny of SOX genes that reflects their evolutionary history in metazoans. Copyright 2000 Academic Press.
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            Vertebrate neurogenesis is counteracted by Sox1-3 activity.

            The generation of neurons from stem cells involves the activity of proneural basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH) proteins, but the mechanism by which these proteins irreversibly commit stem cells to neuronal differentiation is not known. Here we report that expression of the transcription factors Sox1, Sox2 and Sox3 (Sox1-3) is a critical determinant of neurogenesis. Using chick in ovo electroporation, we found that Sox1-3 transcription factors keep neural cells undifferentiated by counteracting the activity of proneural proteins. Conversely, the capacity of proneural bHLH proteins to direct neuronal differentiation critically depends on their ability to suppress Sox1-3 expression in CNS progenitors. These data suggest that the generation of neurons from stem cells depends on the inhibition of Sox1-3 expression by proneural proteins.
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              SOX2 is a dose-dependent regulator of retinal neural progenitor competence.

              Approximately 10% of humans with anophthalmia (absent eye) or severe microphthalmia (small eye) show haploid insufficiency due to mutations in SOX2, a SOXB1-HMG box transcription factor. However, at present, the molecular or cellular mechanisms responsible for these conditions are poorly understood. Here, we directly assessed the requirement for SOX2 during eye development by generating a gene-dosage allelic series of Sox2 mutations in the mouse. The Sox2 mutant mice display a range of eye phenotypes consistent with human syndromes and the severity of these phenotypes directly relates to the levels of SOX2 expression found in progenitor cells of the neural retina. Retinal progenitor cells with conditionally ablated Sox2 lose competence to both proliferate and terminally differentiate. In contrast, in Sox2 hypomorphic/null mice, a reduction of SOX2 expression to <40% of normal causes variable microphthalmia as a result of aberrant neural progenitor differentiation. Furthermore, we provide genetic and molecular evidence that SOX2 activity, in a concentration-dependent manner, plays a key role in the regulation of the NOTCH1 signaling pathway in retinal progenitor cells. Collectively, these results show that precise regulation of SOX2 dosage is critical for temporal and spatial regulation of retinal progenitor cell differentiation and provide a cellular and molecular model for understanding how hypomorphic levels of SOX2 cause retinal defects in humans.

                Author and article information

                Horm Res Paediatr
                Hormone Research in Paediatrics
                S. Karger AG
                May 2008
                06 February 2008
                : 69
                : 5
                : 257-265
                Institute of Child Health, London, UK
                114856 Horm Res 2008;69:257–265
                © 2008 S. Karger AG, Basel

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                Figures: 3, Tables: 1, References: 57, Pages: 9
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