Differential response of lens crystallins and corneal crystallins in degenerative corneas

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Corneal degenerations, occurring either spontaneously or as a complication to other diseases, cause vision problems by endangering corneal transparency. Our past cornea research projects involving mice revealed that some recruited mice presented corneal problems similar to human corneal degeneration. The present study examines the histology of diseased mice corneas, including ultrastructure. Genome-wide microarray and proteomic methods were utilized to screen for molecular changes in the diseased corneas. It was found that abnormalities affected mainly anterior layers of the corneas. The most often observed histological abnormalities included neoplasm or detachment of the epithelial layer, erosion or breakage of Bowman membranes, blood vessel formation, and bleeding in the stroma. Microarray assay showed that among the 46 up-regulated probes in diseased corneas, 13 were for lens crystallins. However, all corneal crystallins genes remained unchanged. αA-crystallin was among the proteins that showed the greatest increase in diseased corneas, as detected by gel electrophoresis. We propose that lens crystallins, rather than corneal crystallins, are involved in the pathological process of corneal degeneration. Further study along these lines would provide insight into the mechanism of corneal transparency.


★ A spontaneous corneal degeneration in mice is described. ★ Lens crystallins are up-regulated in degenerative corneas. ★ Corneal crystallins remain stable in degenerative corneas.

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