OTX2 (orthodenticle homeobox 2) haplodeficiency causes diverse defects in mammalian visual systems ranging from retinal dysfunction to anophthalmia.
Researchers find that the retinal dystrophy ofOtx2+/GFP heterozygous knockin mice is mainly due to the loss of bipolar cells and consequent deficits in retinal activity.
Among bipolar cell types, OFF-cone bipolar subsets, which lack autonomous Otx2 gene expression but receive Otx2 proteins from photoreceptors, degenerate most rapidly in Otx2+/GFP mouse retinas, suggesting a neuroprotective effect of the imported Otx2 protein.
In support of this hypothesis, retinal dystrophy in Otx2+/GFP mice is prevented by intraocular injection of Otx2 protein, which localizes to the mitochondria of bipolar cells and facilitates ATP synthesis as a part of mitochondrial ATP synthase complex.
A Taken together, our findings demonstrate a mitochondrial function for Otx2 and suggest a potential therapeutic application of OTX2 protein delivery in human retinal dystrophy.