The klotho-related protein KLPH (lctl) has preferred expression in lens and is essential for expression of clic5 and normal lens suture formation

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KLPH/lctl belongs to the Klotho family of proteins. Expressed sequence tag analyses unexpectedly revealed that KLPH is highly expressed in the eye lens while northern blots showed that expression is much higher in the eye than in other tissues. In situ hybridization in mouse localized mRNA to the lens, particularly in the equatorial epithelium. Immunofluorescence detected KLPH in lens epithelial cells with highest levels in the germinative/differentiation zone. The gene for KLPH in mouse was deleted by homologous recombination. Littermate knockout (KO) and wild type (WT) mice were compared in a wide panel of pathology examinations and were all grossly normal, showing no systemic effects of the deletion. However, the lens, while superficially normal at young ages, had focusing defects and exhibited age-related cortical cataract by slit lamp examination. Whole-lens imaging showed that KO mice had disorganized lens sutures, forming a loose double-y or x instead of the tight y formation of WT. RNA-seq profiles for KO and WT littermates confirmed the absence of KLPH mRNA in KO lens and also showed complete absence of transcripts for Clic5, a protein associated with cilium/basal body related auditory defects in a mouse model. Immunofluorescence of lens epithelial flat mounts showed that Clic5 localized to cilia/centrosomes. Mice mutant for Clic5 (jitterbug) also had defective sutures. These results suggest that KLPH is required for lens-specific expression of Clic5 and that Clic5 has an important role in the machinery that controls lens fiber cell extension and organization.

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