SIX homeobox 3
The SIX3 gene provides instructions for making a protein that plays an important role in the development of the eyes and front part of the brain (forebrain). This protein is a transcription factor, which means that it attaches (binds) to specific regions of DNA and helps control the activity of certain genes. The SIX3 protein regulates genes involved in several signaling pathways that are important for embryonic development. Some of these genes are turned on (activated) by the SIX3 protein and others are turned off (repressed).
One gene that is activated by the SIX3 protein is the SHH gene, which provides instructions for making a protein called Sonic Hedgehog. Among its many functions, Sonic Hedgehog helps establish the right and left halves (hemispheres) of the forebrain. The SIX3 protein also regulates genes involved in the formation of the lens of the eye and the specialized tissue at the back of the eye that detects light and color (the retina).
At least 60 mutations in the SIX3 gene have been found to cause nonsyndromic holoprosencephaly. This condition occurs when the brain fails to divide into two hemispheres during early development. SIX3 gene mutations are the third most common cause of nonsyndromic holoprosencephaly. Although mutations in this gene can cause mild to severe forms of the condition, they tend to result in more severe signs and symptoms than mutations in other genes that cause nonsyndromic holoprosencephaly
SIX3 gene mutations change the structure of the SIX3 protein in different ways; however, all of them disrupt the protein's ability to bind with DNA. As a result, the genes involved in normal eye and forebrain development are not properly activated or repressed. Without the correct activity of these genes, the eyes will not form normally and the brain does not separate into two hemispheres. The signs and symptoms of nonsyndromic holoprosencephaly are caused by abnormal development of the brain and face.
- homeobox protein SIX3
- sine oculis homeobox homolog 3