Paired box 6

PDB rendering based on 2cue.
Symbols PAX6; AN; AN2; D11S812E; MGC17209; MGDA; WAGR
External IDs OMIM607108 MGI97490 HomoloGene1212 GeneCards: PAX6 Gene
RNA expression pattern
PBB GE PAX6 205646 s at tn.png
More reference expression data
Species Human Mouse
Entrez 5080 18508
Ensembl ENSG00000007372 ENSMUSG00000027168
UniProt P26367 Q3UTV5
RefSeq (mRNA) NM_000280.3 NM_013627.4
RefSeq (protein) NP_000271.1 NP_038655.1
Location (UCSC) Chr 11:
31.81 – 31.84 Mb
Chr 2:
105.51 – 105.54 Mb
PubMed search [1] [2]

Paired box protein Pax-6 also known as aniridia type II protein (AN2) or oculorhombin is a protein that in humans is encoded by the PAX6 gene.[1]



PAX6 is a member of the Pax gene family. It acts as a "master control" gene for the development of eyes and other sensory organs, certain neural and epidermal tissues as well as other homologous structures, usually derived from ectodermal tissues.[citation needed] However it has been recognized that a suite of genes is necessary for eye development, and therefore the term of "master control" gene may be a misnomer.[2] This transcription factor is most noted for its use in the interspecifically induced expression of ectopic eyes and is of medical importance because heterozygous mutants produce a wide spectrum of ocular defects such as Aniridia in humans.[3]

Species distribution

PAX6 protein function is highly conserved across bilaterian species. For instance, mouse PAX6 can trigger eye development in Drosophila melanogaster. Additionally, mouse and human PAX6 have identical amino acid sequences.[4]

Genomic organisation of the PAX6 locus varies considerably among species, including the number and distribution of exons, cis-regulatory elements, and transcription start sites. The first work on genomic organisation was performed in quail, but the picture of the mouse locus is the most complete to date. This consists of 2 confirmed promoters (P0 and P1), 16 exons, and at least 6 enhancers. The 16 confirmed exons are numbered 0 through 13 with the additions of exon α located between exons 4 and 5, and the alternatively spliced exon 5a. Each promoter is associated with its own proximal exon (exon 0 for P0, exon 1 for P1) resulting in transcripts which are alternatively spliced in the 5’ un-translated region.

Of the four Drosophila Pax6 orthologues, it is thought that the eyeless (ey) and twin of eyeless (toy) gene products share functional homology with the vertebrate canonical Pax6 isoform, while the eyegone (eyg) and twin of eyegone (toe) gene products share functional homology with the vertebrate Pax6(5a) isoform. Eyeless and eyegone were named for their respective mutant phenotypes.


The vertebrate PAX6 locus encodes at least three different protein isoforms, these being the canonical PAX6, PAX6(5a), and PAX6(ΔPD). The canonical PAX6 protein contains an N-terminal paired domain, connected by a linker region to a paired-type homeodomain, and a proline/serine/threonine (P/S/T)-rich C-terminal domain. The paired domain and paired-type homeodomain each have DNA binding activities, while the P/S/T-rich domain possesses a transactivation function. PAX6(5a) is a product of the alternatively spliced exon 5a resulting in a 14 residue insertion in the paired domain which alters the specificity of this DNA binding activity. The nucleotide sequence corresponding to the linker region encodes a set of three alternative translation start codons from which the third PAX6 isoform originates. Collectively known as the PAX6(ΔPD) or pairedless isoforms, these three gene products all lack a paired domain. The pairedless proteins possess molecular weights of 43, 33, or 32kDa, depending on the particular start codon used. PAX6 transactivation function is attributed to the variable length C-terminal P/S/T-rich domain which stretches to 153 residues in human and mouse proteins.


  1. ^ Jordan T, Hanson I, Zaletayev D, Hodgson S, Prosser J, Seawright A, Hastie N, van Heyningen V (August 1992). "The human PAX6 gene is mutated in two patients with aniridia". Nat. Genet. 1 (5): 328–32. doi:10.1038/ng0892-328. PMID 1302030. 
  2. ^ Fernald RD (2004). "Eyes: variety, development and evolution". Brain Behav. Evol. 64 (3): 141–7. doi:10.1159/000079743. PMID 15353906. 
  3. ^ Davis LK, Meyer KJ, Rudd DS, Librant AL, Epping EA, Sheffield VC, Wassink TH (May 2008). "Pax6 3' deletion results in aniridia, autism and mental retardation". Hum. Genet. 123 (4): 371–8. doi:10.1007/s00439-008-0484-x. PMC 2719768. PMID 18322702. 
  4. ^ Gehring WJ, Ikeo K (September 1999). "Pax 6: mastering eye morphogenesis and eye evolution". Trends Genet. 15 (9): 371–7. PMID 10461206. 

See also

  • Gillespie syndrome

Further reading

External links

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