Lens provides a good model for studying developmental cues relevant to cellular and molecular interactions. Basic region/leucine zipper (bZIP) transcription factors have been found to play key roles during eye formation in various species, including human, mouse, rat, Xenopus, zebrafish, chick, and quail. Different ocular developmental anomalies associated with MAF mutation in human implicate its active role during eye development. Several members of the maf gene family with this bZIP motif participate directly in lens morphogenesis. One vital Maf protein, L-Maf, is expressed in developing lens cells of chick embryos. Its homolog recently has been detected in lens placode of Xenopus embryos and regulates expression of lens fiber-specific genes in this species. Ectopic expression of L-Maf can induce lens-specific genes in cultured retina cells and embryonic ectoderm. The dominant-negative form of L-Maf causes the suppression of crystallin expression and subsequently inhibits lens formation, indicating that L-Maf plays a central role in chick lens development.
Copyright 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.