Analysis of transcriptional isoforms of collagen types IX, II, and I in the developing avian cornea by competitive polymerase chain reaction

John M. Fitch, Marion K. Gordon, Eileen P. Gibney, Thomas F. Linsenmayer

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26 Scopus citations


The genes for the α1(IX), α1(IX), α1(II), and α2(I) collagen chains can give rise to different isoforms of mRNA, generated by alternative promoter usage [for α(IX) and α2(I)] or alternative splicing [for α1(II)]. In this study, we employed competitive reverse transcriptase PCR to quantitate the amounts of transcriptional isoforms for these genes in the embryonic avian cornea from its inception (about 3 1/2 days of development) to 11 days. In order to compare values at different time points, the results were normalized to those obtained for the “housekeeping” enzyme, glycerol‐3‐phosphate dehydrogenase (G3PDH). These values were compared to those obtained from other tissues (anterior optic cup and cartilage) that synthesize different combinations of the collagen isoforms. We found that, in the cornea, transcripts from the upstream promotor of α1(IX) collagen (termed “long IX”) were predominant at stage 18–20 (about 3 1/2 days), but then fell rapidly, and remained at a low level. By 5 days (just before stromal swelling) the major mRNA isoform of α1(IX) was from the downstream promotor (termed “short IX”). The relative amount of transcript for the short form of type IX collagen rose to a peak at about 6 days of development, and then declined. Throughout this period, the predominant transcriptional isoform of the collagen type II gene was IIA (i.e., containing the alternatively spliced exon 2). This indicates that the molecules of type II collagen that are assembled into heterotypic fibrils with type I collagen possess, at least transiently, an amino‐terminal globular domain similar to that found in collagen types I, III, and V. For type I, the “bone/tendon” mRNA isoform of the α2(I) collagen gene was predominant; transcripts from the downstream promotor were at basal levels. In other tissues expressing collagen types IX and II, long IX was expressed predominantly with the IIA form in the anterior optic cup at stage 22/23; in 14 1/2 day cartilage, long IX was expressed predominantly along with the IIB form of α1(II). The downstream transcript of the α2(I) gene (Icart) was found at high levels only in cartilage. © 1995 Wiley‐Liss, Inc.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)42-53
Number of pages12
JournalDevelopmental Dynamics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1995
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Developmental Biology


  • Cornea
  • Quantitative PCR
  • Tupe IX collagen
  • Type I collagen
  • Type II collagen
  • mRNA isoforms

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