Author(s): Rong P, Wang X, Niesman I, Wu Y, Benedetti LE,
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Abstract The development of the vertebrate lens utilizes a sophisticated cell-cell communication network via gap junction channels, which are made up of at least three connexin isoforms, alpha8 (Cx50), alpha3 (Cx46) and alpha1 (Cx43), and which are encoded by three different genes. In a previous study, we reported that, with a disruption of Gja3 (alpha3 connexin), mice developed nuclear cataracts with a normal sized lens. We show that Gja8tm1 (alpha8-/-) mice develop microphthalmia with small lenses and nuclear cataracts, while the alpha8 heterozygous (+/-) mice have relatively normal eyes and lenses. A comparative study of these alpha3 and alpha8 knockout mice showed that the protein levels of both alpha3 and alpha8 were independently regulated and there was no compensation for either the alpha3 or alpha8 protein from the wild-type allele when the other allele was disrupted. More interestingly, western blotting data indicated that the presence of alpha8 in the lens nucleus is dependent on alpha3 connexin, but not vice versa. The staining of the knock-in lacZ reporter gene showed the promoter activity of alpha8 connexin is much higher than that of alpha3 connexin in embryonic lenses and in adult lens epithelium. More importantly, a delayed denucleation process was observed in the interior fibers of the alpha8-/- lenses. Therefore, alpha8 connexin is required for proper fiber cell maturation and control of lens size.
This article was published in Development
and referenced in Journal of Clinical & Experimental Ophthalmology