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Negative regulation of lens fiber cell differentiation by RTK antagonists Spry and Spred.

Zhao G., Bailey C.G., Feng Y., Rasko J., Lovicu F.J.

Sprouty (Spry) and Spred proteins have been identified as closely related negative regulators of the receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK)-mediated MAPK pathway, inhibiting cellular proliferation, migration and differentiation in many systems. As the different members of this antagonist family are strongly expressed in the lens epithelium in overlapping patterns, in this study we used lens epithelial explants to examine the impact of these different antagonists on the morphologic and molecular changes associated with fibroblast growth factor (FGF)-induced lens fiber differentiation. Cells in lens epithelial explants were transfected using different approaches to overexpress the different Spry (Spry1, Spry2) and Spred (Spred1, Spred2, Spred3) members, and we compared their ability to undergo FGF-induced fiber differentiation. In cells overexpressing any of the antagonists, the propensity for FGF-induced cell elongation was significantly reduced, indicative of a block to lens fiber differentiation. Of these antagonists, Spry1 and Spred2 appeared to be the most potent among their respective family members, demonstrating the greatest block in FGF-induced fiber differentiation based on the percentage of cells that failed to elongate. Consistent with the reported activity of Spry and Spred, we show that overexpression of Spry2 was able to suppress FGF-induced ERK1/2 phosphorylation in lens cells, as well as the ERK1/2-dependent fiber-specific marker Prox1, but not the accumulation of β-crystallins. Taken together, Spry and Spred proteins that are predominantly expressed in the lens epithelium in situ, appear to have overlapping effects on negatively regulating ERK1/2-signaling associated with FGF-induced lens epithelial cell elongation leading to fiber differentiation. This highlights the important regulatory role for these RTK antagonists in establishing and maintaining the distinct architecture and polarity of the lens.

Exp. Eye Res. 170:148-159(2018) [PubMed] [Europe PMC]

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