Regulation of Fiber Cell Differentiation

Although the precise molecular events initiating primary lens fiber cell differentiation in vivo are not known, gene deletion studies in mice have revealed several genes essential for this process. Obviously, transcription factors essential for lens induction (e. g., Pax6) will secondarily be essential for lens fiber cell differentiation. Cells of the lens vesicle initially express a set of characteristic transcription factors, including Foxe3, c-Maf (or L-Maf in the case of chickens and Xenopus), Pax6, Pitx3, Prox1, Six3, and at least one member of the group B1 Sox genes (Sox1, Sox2, and/or Sox3, depending on the species). Genetic studies in several organisms demonstrate that each of these transcription factors is required for lens formation and/or development. While it is sometimes difficult to discern where to draw the line between those genes necessary for lens induction and those required for later stages of lens development, there are genes that appear to be specifically important for fiber cell differentiation. Defects in many of these disrupt normal primary lens fiber differentiation, often resulting in a lens where the fiber cells fail to fill the lumen of the lens vesicle.

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