Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have dissected numerous genetic factors underlying refractive errors (RE) such as myopia. Despite significant insights into understanding the genetic architecture of RE, few studies have validated and explored the functional role of candidate genes within these loci. To functionally follow-up on GWAS and characterize the potential role of candidate genes on the development of RE, we prioritized nine genes (TJP2, PDE11A, SHISA6, LAMA2, LRRC4C, KCNQ5, GNB3, RBFOX1, and GRIA4) based on biological and statistical evidence; and used CRISPR/cas9 to generate knock-out zebrafish mutants. These mutant fish were screened for abnormalities in axial length by spectral-domain optical coherence tomography and refractive status by eccentric photorefraction at the juvenile (2 months) and adult (4 months) developmental stage. We found a significantly increased axial length and myopic shift in refractive status in three of our studied mutants, indicating a potential involvement of the human orthologs (LAMA2, LRRC4C, and KCNQ5) in myopia development. Further, in-situ hybridization studies showed that all three genes are expressed throughout the zebrafish retina. Our zebrafish models provide evidence of a functional role of these three genes in refractive error development and offer opportunities to elucidate pathways driving the retina-to-sclera signaling cascade that leads to myopia.
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