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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Vascular endothelial growth factor expression and signaling in the lens.

PURPOSE: Previous studies have identified sequences encoding vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)-A and one of the VEGF receptors ( VEGFR2, Flk-1, KDR) in lens fiber cells. The current study was undertaken to determine the distribution of VEGF-A protein in the lens, whether signaling through VEGF receptors occurs in lens cells, the pattern of VEGF-A expression during lens development, and the effect of hypoxia on VEGF-A expression. METHODS: VEGF-A and VEGFR2 were localized using immunocytochemistry. VEGF-A and VEGFR2 protein were identified and quantified by Western blot analysis. Activated (tyrosine phosphorylated) VEGFR2 was detected by immunoprecipitation with an anti-phosphotyrosine antibody followed by Western blot analysis with antibody to VEGFR2. Levels of VEGF-A mRNA were measured by quantitative PCR. Suturing the lids of adult mouse or rabbit eyes for 3 days was used to induce lens hypoxia. RESULTS: VEGFR2 sequences were present in adult human lens epithelial cells, and VEGF-A transcripts were detected in chicken embryo, adult human, and mouse lens epithelial cells. VEGF-A protein localized to the ends of mouse embryo lens fiber cells at developmental stages when the fetal vasculature was forming. At later stages, VEGF-A was distributed uniformly throughout the cytoplasm of cortical fiber cells. VEGFR2 was present in mouse lens epithelial and fiber cells and was tyrosine phosphorylated at all stages examined. VEGF-A protein was barely detectable in lens epithelial cells during the first postnatal week, but increased as the capillaries of the anterior pupillary membrane regressed. VEGF-A levels were highest in adult lenses. Suturing the eyelid caused an increase in VEGF-A mRNA and protein in lens epithelial and fiber cells. CONCLUSIONS: VEGF-A secreted by lens cells may stimulate the formation of the fetal vasculature, but regression of these vessels is not likely to be caused by a reduction in VEGF-A production by the lens. An active VEGF-A signaling system of unknown function appears to be active in the lens. It is likely that VEGF-A expression is regulated by tissue hypoxia at all stages of lens development.[1]


  1. Vascular endothelial growth factor expression and signaling in the lens. Shui, Y.B., Wang, X., Hu, J.S., Wang, S.P., Garcia, C.M., Potts, J.D., Sharma, Y., Beebe, D.C. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. (2003) [Pubmed]
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