TRPM3_miR-204: A complex locus for eye development and disease

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First discovered in a light-sensitive retinal mutant of Drosophila, the transient receptor potential (TRP) superfamily of non-selective cation channels serve as polymodal cellular sensors that participate in diverse physiological processes across the animal kingdom including the perception of light, temperature, pressure, and pain. TRPM3 belongs to the melastatin sub-family of TRP channels and has been shown to function as a spontaneous calcium channel, with permeability to other cations influenced by alternative splicing and/or non-canonical channel activity. Activators of TRPM3 channels include the neurosteroid pregnenolone sulfate, calmodulin, phosphoinositides, and heat, whereas inhibitors include certain drugs, plant-derived metabolites, and G-protein subunits. Activation of TRPM3 channels at the cell membrane elicits a signal transduction cascade of mitogen-activated kinases and stimulus response transcription factors. The mammalian TRPM3 gene hosts a non-coding microRNA gene specifying miR-204 that serves as both a tumor suppressor and a negative regulator of post-transcriptional gene expression during eye development in vertebrates. Ocular co-expression of TRPM3 and miR-204 is upregulated by the paired box 6 transcription factor (PAX6) and mutations in all three corresponding genes underlie inherited forms of eye disease in humans including early-onset cataract, retinal dystrophy, and coloboma. This review outlines the genomic and functional complexity of the TRPM3_miR-204 locus in mammalian eye development and disease.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7
JournalHuman genomics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 18 2020


  • Eye development
  • Eye disease
  • MicroRNA
  • TRP channel


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