In this study, we seek to exclude other pathophysiological mechanisms by which Frmd7 knock-down may cause Idiopathic Infantile Nystagmus (IIN) using the Frmd7.tm1a and Frmd7.tm1b murine models. We used a combination of genetic, histological and visual function techniques to characterize the role of Frmd7 gene in IIN using a novel murine model for the disease. We demonstrate that the Frmd7.tm1b allele represents a more robust model of Frmd7 knock-out at the mRNA level. The expression of Frmd7 was investigated using both antibody staining and X-gal staining confirming previous reports that Frmd7 expression in the retina is restricted to starburst amacrine cells and demonstrating that X-gal staining recapitulates the expression pattern in this model. Thus, it offers a useful tool for further expression studies. We also show that gross retinal morphology and electrophysiology are unchanged in these Frmd7 mutant models when compared with wild-type mice. High-speed eye-tracking recordings of Frmd7 mutant mice confirm a specific horizontal optokinetic reflex defect. In summary, our study confirms the likely role for Frmd7 in the optokinetic reflex in mice mediated by starburst amacrine cells. We show that the Frmd7.tm1b model provides a more robust knock-out than the Frmd7.tm1a model at the mRNA level, although the functional consequence is unchanged. Finally, we establish a robust eye-tracking technique in mice that can be used in a variety of future studies using this model and others. Although our data highlight a deficit in the optiokinetic reflex as a result of the starburst amacrine cells in the retina, this does not rule out the involvement of other cells, in the brain or the retina where Frmd7 is expressed, in the pathophysiology of IIN.
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