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      Connexin 46 and Connexin 50 in Selenite Cataract

      Ophthalmic Research

      S. Karger AG

      Cataract, Selenite, Lens membranes, Connexin 46, Connexin 50, Gap junctions

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          Abstract

          The purpose of this work was to determine if the lens gap junction proteins connexin 46 (Cx46) and connexin 50 (Cx50) were altered with the development of selenite-induced cataract. Cataracts were induced in young Sprague-Dawley rats with a single subcutaneous injection of sodium selenite; age-matched uninjected rats served as controls. Membrane fractions were isolated from homogenates of cortex and nucleus of normal and cataractous lenses by differential and discontinuous sucrose gradient centrifugation. Aliquots of urea-insoluble protein from membrane fractions were analyzed by quantitative densitometry of Western blots probed with antibodies to Cx46 and Cx50. A significant decrease in the more slowly migrating Cx46-reactive band, which represents phosphorylated Cx46, was found in the major membrane fraction of the cortex of cataractous lenses. There was no significant difference in the amounts of either Cx46 or Cx50 associated with selenite cataract in any of the membrane fractions examined. These results suggest that alteration of gap junction function (as evidenced by the change in phosphorylation of Cx46) may be associated with the development of the selenite cataract, but that neither Cx46 nor Cx50 is subject to the well-characterized proteolysis associated with the selenite cataract model.

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          Most cited references 15

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          Targeted Ablation of Connexin50 in Mice Results in Microphthalmia and Zonular Pulverulent Cataracts

          In the ocular lens, gap junctional communication is a key component of homeostatic mechanisms preventing cataract formation. Gap junctions in rodent lens fibers contain two known intercellular channel-forming proteins, connexin50 (Cx50) and Cx46. Since targeted ablation of Cx46 has been shown to cause senile-type nuclear opacities, it appears that Cx50 alone cannot meet homeostatic requirements. To determine if lens pathology arises from a reduction in levels of communication or the loss of a connexin-specific function, we have generated mice with a targeted deletion of the Cx50 gene. Cx50-null mice exhibited microphthalmia and nuclear cataracts. At postnatal day 14 (P14), Cx50-knockout eyes weighed 32% less than controls, whereas lens mass was reduced by 46%. Cx50-knockout lenses also developed zonular pulverulent cataracts, and lens abnormalities were detected by P7. Deletion of Cx50 did not alter the amounts or distributions of Cx46 or Cx43, a component of lens epithelial junctions. In addition, intercellular passage of tracers revealed the persistence of communication between all cell types in the Cx50-knockout lens. These results demonstrate that Cx50 is required not only for maintenance of lens transparency but also for normal eye growth. Furthermore, these data indicate that unique functional properties of both Cx46 and Cx50 are required for proper lens development.
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            Connexin46 mutations in autosomal dominant congenital cataract.

            Loci for autosomal dominant "zonular pulverulent" cataract have been mapped to chromosomes 1q (CZP1) and 13q (CZP3). Here we report genetic refinement of the CZP3 locus and identify underlying mutations in the gene for gap-junction protein alpha-3 (GJA3), or connexin46 (Cx46). Linkage analysis gave a significantly positive two-point LOD score (Z) at marker D13S175 (maximum Z [Zmax]=>7.0; maximum recombination frequency [thetamax] =0). Haplotyping indicated that CZP3 probably lies in the genetic interval D13S1236-D13S175-D13S1316-cen-13pter, close to GJA3. Sequencing of a genomic clone isolated from the CZP3 candidate region identified an open reading frame coding for a protein of 435 amino acids (47,435 D) that shared approximately 88% homology with rat Cx46. Mutation analysis of GJA3 in two families with CZP3 detected distinct sequence changes that were not present in a panel of 105 normal, unrelated individuals. In family B, an A-->G transition resulted in an asparagine-to-serine substitution at codon 63 (N63S) and introduced a novel MwoI restriction site. In family E, insertion of a C at nucleotide 1137 (1137insC) introduced a novel BstXI site, causing a frameshift at codon 380. Restriction analysis confirmed that the novel MwoI and BstXI sites cosegregated with the disease in families B and E, respectively. This study identifies GJA3 as the sixth member of the connexin gene family to be implicated in human disease, and it highlights the physiological importance of gap-junction communication in the development of a transparent eye lens.
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              Connections Between Connexins, Calcium, and Cataracts in the Lens

              There is a good deal of evidence that the lens generates an internal micro circulatory system, which brings metabolites, like glucose, and antioxidants, like ascorbate, into the lens along the extracellular spaces between cells. Calcium also ought to be carried into the lens by this system. If so, the only path for Ca2+ to get out of the lens is to move down its electrochemical gradient into fiber cells, and then move by electrodiffusion from cell to cell through gap junctions to surface cells, where Ca-ATPase activity and Na/Ca exchange can transport it back into the aqueous or vitreous humors. The purpose of the present study was to test this calcium circulation hypothesis by studying calcium homeostasis in connexin (Cx46) knockout and (Cx46 for Cx50) knockin mouse lenses, which have different degrees of gap junction coupling. To measure intracellular calcium, FURA2 was injected into fiber cells, and the gradient in calcium concentration from center to surface was mapped in each type of lens. In wild-type lenses the coupling conductance of the mature fibers was ∼0.5 S/cm2 of cell to cell contact, and the best fit to the calcium concentration data varied from 700 nM in the center to 300 nM at the surface. In the knockin lenses, the coupling conductance was ∼1.0 S/cm2 and calcium varied from ∼500 nM at the center to 300 nM at the surface. Thus, when the coupling conductance doubled, the concentration gradient halved, as predicted by the model. In knockout lenses, the coupling conductance was zero, hence the efflux path was knocked out and calcium accumulated to ∼2 μM in central fibers. Knockout lenses also had a dense central cataract that extended from the center to about half the radius. Others have previously shown that this cataract involves activation of a calcium-dependent protease, Lp82. We can now expand on this finding to provide a hypothesis on each step that leads to cataract formation: knockout of Cx46 causes loss of coupling of mature fiber cells; the efflux path for calcium is therefore blocked; calcium accumulates in the central cells; at concentrations above ∼1 μM (from the center to about half way out of a 3-wk-old lens) Lp82 is activated; Lp82 cleaves cytoplasmic proteins (crystallins) in central cells; and the cleaved proteins aggregate and scatter light.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                ORE
                Ophthalmic Res
                10.1159/issn.0030-3747
                Ophthalmic Research
                S. Karger AG
                0030-3747
                1423-0259
                2006
                December 2005
                12 December 2005
                : 38
                : 1
                : 24-28
                Affiliations
                A.T. Still University of Health Sciences, Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine, Kirksville, Mo., USA
                Article
                88527 Ophthalmic Res 2006;38:24–28
                10.1159/000088527
                16192745
                © 2006 S. Karger AG, Basel

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                Page count
                Figures: 4, References: 22, Pages: 5
                Categories
                Original Paper

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