Recent studies have uncovered that noncoding sequence variants may relate to Axenfeld-Rieger syndrome (ARS), a rare developmental anomaly with genetic heterogeneity. However, how these genomic regions are functionally and structurally associated with ARS is still unclear. In this study, we performed genome-wide linkage analysis and whole-genome sequencing in a Chinese family with ARS and identified a heterozygous deletion of about 570 kb (termed LOH-1) in the intergenic sequence between paired-like homeodomain transcription factor 2 (PITX2) and family with sequence similarity 241 member A. Knockout of LOH-1 homologous sequences caused ARS phenotypes in mice. RNA-Seq and real-time quantitative PCR revealed a significant reduction in Pitx2 gene expression in LOH-1–/– mice, while forkhead box C1 expression remained unchanged. ChIP-Seq and bioinformatics analysis identified a potential enhancer region (LOH-E1) within LOH-1. Deletion of LOH-E1 led to a substantial downregulation of the PITX2 gene. Mechanistically, we found a sequence (hg38 chr4:111,399,594–111,399,691) that is on LOH-E1 could regulate PITX2 by binding to RAD21, a critical component of the cohesin complex. Knockdown of RAD21 resulted in reduced PITX2 expression. Collectively, our findings indicate that a potential enhancer sequence that is within LOH-1 may regulate PITX2 expression remotely through cohesin-mediated loop domains, leading to ARS when absent.


Yizheng Jiang, Yu Peng, Qi Tian, Zhe Cheng, Bei Feng, Junping Hu, Lu Xia, Hui Guo, Kun Xia, Liang Zhou, Zhengmao Hu


Download this citation for these citation managers:

Or, download this citation in these formats:

If you experience problems using these citation formats, send us feedback.