Abnormal lens morphogenesis and ectopic lens formation in the absence of beta-catenin function

Genesis. 2007 Apr;45(4):157-68. doi: 10.1002/dvg.20277.


beta-Catenin plays a key role in cadherin-mediated cell adhesion as well as in canonical Wnt signaling. To study the role of beta-catenin during eye development, we used conditional Cre/loxP system in mouse to inactivate beta-catenin in developing lens and retina. Inactivation of beta-catenin does not suppress lens fate, but instead results in abnormal morphogenesis of the lens. Using BAT-gal reporter mice, we show that beta-catenin-mediated Wnt signaling is notably absent from lens and neuroretina throughout eye development. The observed defect is therefore likely due to the cytoskeletal role of beta-catenin, and is accompanied by impaired epithelial cell adhesion. In contrast, inactivation of beta-catenin in the nasal ectoderm, an area with active Wnt signaling, results in formation of crystallin-positive ectopic lentoid bodies. These data suggest that, outside of the normal lens, beta-catenin functions as a coactivator of canonical Wnt signaling to suppress lens fate.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Adhesion
  • Choristoma / congenital
  • Choristoma / genetics*
  • Eye / embryology
  • Lens, Crystalline / cytology
  • Lens, Crystalline / embryology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Morphogenesis / genetics*
  • Nose Diseases / congenital
  • Nose Diseases / genetics*
  • Signal Transduction / genetics
  • Wnt Proteins / physiology
  • beta Catenin / genetics*
  • beta Catenin / physiology*


  • Wnt Proteins
  • beta Catenin