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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1997 Dec 9;94(25):13701-6.

Conservation of fibroblast growth factor function in lens regeneration.

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  • 1Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Department of Biology, University of Dayton, Dayton, OH 45469, USA.


In urodele amphibians, lens induction during development and regeneration occurs through different pathways. During development, the lens is induced from the mutual interaction of the ectoderm and the optic vesicle, whereas after lentectomy the lens is regenerated through the transdifferentiation of the iris-pigmented epithelial cells. Given the known role of fibroblast growth factors (FGFs) during lens development, we examined whether or not the expression and the effects of exogenous FGF during urodele lens regeneration were conserved. In this paper, we describe expression of FGF-1 and its receptors, FGFR-2 (KGFR and bek variants) and FGFR-3, in newts during lens regeneration. Expression of these genes was readily observed in the dedifferentiating pigmented epithelial cells, and the levels of expression were high in the lens epithelium and the differentiating fibers and lower in the retina. These patterns of expression implied involvement of FGFs in lens regeneration. To further elucidate this function, we examined the effects of exogenous FGF-1 and FGF-4 during lens regeneration. FGF-1 or FGF-4 treatment in lentectomized eyes resulted in the induction of abnormalities reminiscent to the ones induced during lens development in transgenic mice. Effects included transformation of epithelial cells to fiber cells, double lens regeneration, and lenses with abnormal polarity. These results establish that FGF molecules are key factors in fiber differentiation, polarity, and morphogenesis of the lens during regeneration even though the regenerating lens is induced by a different mechanism than in lens development. In this sense, FGF function in lens regeneration and development should be regarded as conserved. Such conservation should help elucidate the mechanisms of lens regeneration in urodeles and its absence in higher vertebrates.

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