Transparency of the ocular lens depends on symmetric packing and membrane organization of highly elongated hexagonal fiber cells. These cells possess an extensive, well-ordered cortical cytoskeleton to maintain cell shape and to anchor membrane components. Periaxin (Prx), a PDZ domain protein involved in myelin sheath stabilization, is also a component of adhaerens plaques in lens fiber cells. Here we show that Prx is expressed in lens fibers and exhibits maturation dependent redistribution, clustering discretely at the tricellular junctions in mature fiber cells. Prx exists in a macromolecular complex with proteins involved in membrane organization including ankyrin-B, spectrin, NrCAM, filensin, ezrin and desmoyokin. Importantly, Prx knockout mouse lenses were found to be softer and more easily deformed than normal lenses, revealing disruptions in fiber cell hexagonal packing, membrane skeleton and membrane stability. These observations suggest a key role for Prx in maturation, packing, and membrane organization of lens fiber cells. Hence, there may be functional parallels between the roles of Prx in membrane stabilization of the myelin sheath and the lens fiber cell.
Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.