The clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeat (CRISPR)/CRISPR-Associated protein (Cas) system is a rapid gene-Targeting technology that does not require embryonic stem cells. To demonstrate dosage effects of the Pax6 gene on eye formation, we generated Pax6-deficient mice with the CRISPR/Cas system. Eyes of founder embryos at embryonic day (E) 16.5 were examined and categorized according to macroscopic phenotype as class 1 (small eye with distinct pigmentation), class 2 (pigmentation without eye globes), or class 3 (no pigmentation and no eyes). Histologically, class 1 eyes were abnormally small in size with lens still attached to the cornea at E16.5. Class 2 eyes had no lens and distorted convoluted retinas. Class 3 eyes had only rudimentary optic vesicle-like tissues or histological anophthalmia. Genotyping of neck tissue cells from the founder embryos revealed somatic mosaicism and allelic complexity for Pax6. Relationships between eye phenotype and genotype were developed. The present results demonstrated that development of the lens from the surface ectoderm requires a higher gene dose of Pax6 than development of the retina from the optic vesicle. We further anticipate that mice with somatic mosaicism in a targeted gene generated by CRISPR/Cas-mediated genome editing will give some insights for understanding the complexity in human congenital diseases that occur in mosaic form.
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