1. We have developed an experimental imaging approach that allows the distribution of lens membrane proteins to be mapped with subcellular resolution over large distances as a function of fibre cell differentiation.2. Using this approach in the rat lens, we have localized precisely histological sites of connexin 46 cleavage, quantitatively mapped changes in gap junction distribution and fibre cell morphology and correlated these changes to differences in intercellular dye transfer.3. Profiling of glucose transporter isoform expression showed that lens epithelial cells express GLUT1, whereas deeper cortical fibre cells express the higher-affinity GLUT3 isoform. Near the lens periphery, GLUT3 was located in the cytoplasm of fibre cells, but it underwent a differentiation-dependent membrane insertion.4. Similarly, the putative adhesion protein membrane protein 20 is inserted into fibre cell membranes at the stage when the cells lose their nuclei. This redistribution is strikingly rapid in terms of fibre cell differentiation and correlates with a barrier to extracellular diffusion.5. Our imaging-orientated approach has facilitated new insights into the relationships between fibre cell differentiation and lens function. Taken together, our results indicate that a number of strategies are used by the lens during the course of normal differentiation to change the subcellular distribution, gross spatial location and functional properties of key membrane transport proteins.
|Number of pages||6|
|Publication status||Published - 1 Jan 2004|