Drosophila Pygopus was originally identified as a core component of the canonical Wnt signaling pathway and a transcriptional coactivator. Here we have investigated the microophthalmia that arises in mice with a germline null mutation of pygopus 2. We show that this phenotype is a consequence of defective lens development at inductive stages. Using a series of regionally limited Cre recombinase transgenes for conditional deletion of Pygo2(flox), we show that Pygo2 activity in pre-placodal presumptive lens ectoderm, placodal ectoderm and ocular mesenchyme all contribute to lens development. In each case, Pygo2 is required for normal expression levels of the crucial transcription factor Pax6. Finally, we provide multiple lines of evidence that although Pygo2 can function in the Wnt pathway, its activity in lens development is Wnt pathway-independent.
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