Abstract Anophthalmia is a rare eye development anomaly resulting in absent ocular globes or tissue in the orbit since birth. Here, we investigated a newborn with bilateral anophthalmia in a Chinese family. Exome sequencing revealed that compound heterozygous mutations c.287G > A (p.(Arg96His)) and c.709G > A (p.(Gly237Arg)) of the ALDH1A3 gene were present in the affected newborn. Both mutations were absent in all of the searched databases, including 10,000 in-house Chinese exome sequences, and these mutations were confirmed as having been transmitted from the parents. Comparative amino acid sequence analysis across distantly related species revealed that the residues at positions 96 and 234 were evolutionarily highly conserved. In silico analysis predicted these changes to be damaging, and in vitro expression analysis revealed that the mutated alleles were associated with decreased protein production and impaired tetrameric protein formation. This study firstly reported that compound heterozygous mutations of the ALDH1A3 gene can result in anophthalmia in humans, thus highlighting those heterozygous mutations in ALDH1A3 should be considered for molecular screening in anophthalmia, particularly in cases from families without consanguineous relationships.
The mouse testis-enriched Znf230 gene, which encodes a type of RING finger protein, is present primarily in the nuclei of spermatogonia, the acrosome and the tail of spermatozoa. To investigate the role of Znf230 in spermatogenesis, we generated Znf230-deficient mice by disrupting Znf230 exon-5 and exon-6 using homologous recombination. The homozygous Znf230-knockout (KO) mice did not exhibit Znf230 mRNA expression and Znf230 protein production. Znf230 KO mice exhibited no obvious impairment in body growth or fertility. Male Znf230 KO mice had integral reproductive systems and mature sperm that were regular in number and shape. The developmental stages of male germ cells of Znf230 KO mice were also normal. We further examined variations in the transcriptomes of testicular tissue between Znf230 KO and wild-type mice through microarray analysis. The results showed that the mRNA level of one unclassified transcript 4921513I08Rik was increased and that the mRNA levels of three other transcripts, i.e., 4930448A20Rik, 4931431B13Rik and potassium channel tetramerisation domain containing 14(Kctd14), were reduced more than two-fold in Znf230 KO mice compared with wild-type mice. Using our current examination techniques, these findings suggested that Znf230 deficiency in mice may not affect growth, fertility or spermatogenesis.
ZNF230 is a novel zinc finger gene cloned by our laboratory. In order to understand the potential functions of this gene in vertebrate development, we cloned the zebrafish orthologue of human ZNF230, named rnf141. The cDNA fragment of rnf141 was obtained by rapid amplification of cDNA ends (RACE). The open reading frame (ORF) encodes a polypeptide of 222 amino acids which shares 75.65% identity with the human ZNF230. RT-PCR analysis in zebrafish embryo and adult tissues revealed that rnf141 transcripts are maternally derived and that rnf141 mRNA has a broad distribution. Zygotic rnf141 message is strongly localized in the central nervous system, as shown by whole-mount in situ hybridization. Knockdown and over expression of rnf141 can induce abnormal phenotypes, including abnormal development of brain, as well as yolk sac and axis extendsion. Marker gene analysis showed that rnf141 may play a role in normal dorsoventral patterning of zebrafish embryos, suggesting that rnf141 may have a broad function during early development of vertebrates.