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This article is the author’s final published version in Investigative ophthalmology & visual science, Volume 63, Issue 4, April 2022, Page 8.

The published version is available at Copyright © Ma et al.


Purpose: Transition from lens epithelial cells to lens fiber cell is accompanied by numerous changes in gene expression critical for lens transparency. We identify expression patterns of highly prevalent genes including ubiquitous and enzyme crystallins in the embryonic day 13 chicken lens.

Methods: Embryonic day 13 chicken lenses were dissected into central epithelial cell (EC), equatorial epithelial cell (EQ), cortical fiber cell (FP), and nuclear fiber cell (FC) compartments. Total RNA was prepared, subjected to high-throughput unidirectional mRNA sequencing, analyzed, mapped to the chicken genome, and functionally grouped.

Results: A total of 77,097 gene-specific transcripts covering 17,450 genes were expressed, of which 10,345 differed between two or more lens subregions. Ubiquitous crystallin gene expression increased from EC to EQ and was similar in FP and FC. Highly expressed crystallin genes fell into three coordinately expressed groups with R2 ≥ 0.93: CRYAA, CRYBB2, CRYAB, and CRYBA2; CRYBB1, CRYBA4, CRYGN, ASL1, and ASL; and CRYBB3 and CRYBA1. The highly expressed transcription factors YBX1, YBX3, PNRC1, and BASP1 were coordinately expressed with the second group of crystallins (r2 > 0.88).

Conclusions: Although it is well known that lens crystallin gene expression changes during the epithelial to fiber cell transition, these data identify for the first time three distinct patterns of expression for specific subsets of crystallin genes, each highly correlated with expression of specific transcription factors. The results provide a quantitative basis for designing functional experiments pinpointing the mechanisms governing the landscape of crystallin expression during fiber cell differentiation to attain lens transparency.

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

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