Guo L, Yamashita H, Kou I, Takimoto A, Meguro-Horike M, Horike S, Sakuma T, Miura S, Adachi T, Yamamoto T, Ikegawa S, Hiraki Y, Shukunami C.
Previously, we identified an adolescent idiopathic scoliosis susceptibility locus near human ladybird homeobox 1 (LBX1) and FLJ41350 by a genome-wide association study. Here, we characterized the associated non-coding variant and investigated the function of these genes. A chromosome conformation capture assay revealed that the genome region with the most significantly associated single nucleotide polymorphism (rs11190870) physically interacted with the promoter region of LBX1-FLJ41350. The promoter in the direction of LBX1, combined with a 590-bp region including rs11190870, had higher transcriptional activity with the risk allele than that with the non-risk allele in HEK 293T cells. The ubiquitous overexpression of human LBX1 or either of the zebrafish lbx genes (lbx1a, lbx1b, and lbx2), but not FLJ41350, in zebrafish embryos caused body curvature followed by death prior to vertebral column formation. Such body axis deformation was not observed in transcription activator-like effector nucleases mediated knockout zebrafish of lbx1b or lbx2. Mosaic expression of lbx1b driven by the GATA2 minimal promoter and the lbx1b enhancer in zebrafish significantly alleviated the embryonic lethal phenotype to allow observation of the later onset of the spinal curvature with or without vertebral malformation. Deformation of the embryonic body axis by lbx1b overexpression was associated with defects in convergent extension, which is a component of the main axis-elongation machinery in gastrulating embryos. In embryos overexpressing lbx1b, wnt5b, a ligand of the non-canonical Wnt/planar cell polarity (PCP) pathway, was significantly downregulated. Injection of mRNA for wnt5b or RhoA, a key downstream effector of Wnt/PCP signaling, rescued the defective convergent extension phenotype and attenuated the lbx1b-induced curvature of the body axis. Thus, our study presents a novel pathological feature of LBX1 and its zebrafish homologs in body axis deformation at various stages of embryonic and subsequent growth in zebrafish.