Fibroblast growth factor (FGF) signaling is an essential regulator of lens epithelial cell proliferation and survival, as well as lens fiber cell differentiation. However, the identities of these FGF factors, their source tissue, and the genes that regulate their synthesis are unknown. We have found that Chx10-Cre;Lhx2lox/lox mice, which selectively lack Lhx2 expression in neuroretina from E10.5, showed an early arrest in lens fiber development along with severe microphthalmia. These mutant animals showed reduced expression of multiple neuroretina-expressed FGFs and canonical FGF-regulated genes in neuroretina. When FGF expression was genetically restored in Lhx2-deficient neuroretina of Chx10-Cre;Lhx2lox/lox mice, we observed a partial but nonetheless substantial rescue of the defects in lens cell proliferation, survival and fiber differentiation. These data demonstrate that neuroretinal expression of Lhx2 and neuroretina-derived FGF factors are crucial for lens fiber development in vivo.
- Received March 17, 2016.
- Accepted September 1, 2016.