Alterations in lens protein tyrosine phosphorylation and phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase signaling during selenite cataract formation

Curr Eye Res. 2004 Feb;28(2):135-44. doi: 10.1076/ceyr.


Purpose: Protein tyrosine phosphorylation is an important event in the cell signal transduction process. Phosphatidylinositol-3 kinase (PI-3K) is an intracellular signal mediator and plays a key role in many cellular functions. In this study we have examined the changes in lens protein tyrosine phosphorylation and its impact on phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI-3K) signaling during selenite cataract development.

Methods: Cataract was induced in 10 days old rat pups by a single sub-cutaneous injection of sodium selenite (30 microM/Kg body weight) and lenses were collected at different stages of cataract development. Immunoprecipitation and Western immunoblotting were employed to determine protein tyrosine phosphorylation, PI-3K activity and protein in lens cell extracts. Tyrosine kinase activity in lens membrane preparations was assayed in the presence of a synthetic substrate peptide and [32P]ATP.

Results: Protein tyrosine phosphorylation in the lens was disrupted before the onset of cataract. A decrease in tyrosine phosphorylation of lens proteins was observed within 2-3 days of selenite injection (pre-cataract stage). The effect was much more prominent with the progression of cataract. The decrease in protein tyrosine phosphorylation correlated with the decrease in tyrosine kinase activity associated with the lens membrane fraction. Stimulation of normal rat lenses in organ culture with insulin and IGF-1 caused an increase in the phosphorylation of proteins, whose tyrosine phosphorylation status appeared to be diminished during cataract development. Insulin and IGF-1 also stimulated rat lens PI-3K activity. While there was no change in total PI-3K activity during the onset of cataract, the activity of PI-3K associated with tyrosine phosphorylated proteins decreased markedly in pre-cataract lenses. Further, the ability of IGF-1 to stimulate PI-3K activity was significantly reduced in lens epithelial cells treated with selenium.

Conclusions: These studies show that signaling events involving the protein tyrosine phosphorylation process and activation of PI-3K are altered during selenite cataract formation and implicate defects in signal transduction mechanisms as contributing factors in the development of cataract.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blotting, Western
  • Cataract / chemically induced
  • Cataract / metabolism*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Crystallins / metabolism*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Epithelial Cells / drug effects
  • Epithelial Cells / enzymology
  • Insulin / pharmacology
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / pharmacology
  • Lens, Crystalline / drug effects
  • Lens, Crystalline / enzymology
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases / metabolism*
  • Phosphorylation
  • Precipitin Tests
  • Rabbits
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Signal Transduction*
  • Sodium Selenite / toxicity
  • Tyrosine / metabolism*


  • Crystallins
  • Insulin
  • Tyrosine
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases
  • Sodium Selenite