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Human CRB1 and CRB2 form homo- and heteromeric protein complexes in the retina

Crumbs homolog 1 (CRB1) is one of the key genes linked to retinitis pigmentosa and Leber congenital amaurosis, which are characterized by a high clinical heterogeneity. The Crumbs family member CRB2 has a similar protein structure to CRB1, and in zebrafish, Crb2 has been shown to interact through the extracellular domain. Here, we show that CRB1 and CRB2 co-localize in the human retina and human iPSC-derived retinal organoids. In retina-specific pull-downs, CRB1 was enriched in CRB2 samples, supporting a CRB1–CRB2 interaction. Furthermore, novel interactors of the crumbs complex were identified, representing a retina-derived protein interaction network. Using co-immunoprecipitation, we further demonstrate that human canonical CRB1 interacts with CRB1 and CRB2, but not with CRB3, which lacks an extracellular domain. Next, we explored how missense mutations in the extracellular domain affect CRB1–CRB2 interactions. We observed no or a mild loss of CRB1–CRB2 interaction, when interrogating various CRB1 or CRB2 missense mutants in vitro. Taken together, our results show a stable interaction of human canonical CRB2 and CRB1 in the retina.