Cellular and molecular features of lens differentiation: a review of recent advances

Differentiation. 1996 Dec;61(2):77-93. doi: 10.1046/j.1432-0436.1996.6120077.x.


In this paper, the more recent literature pertaining to differentiation in the developing vertebrate lens is reviewed in relation to previous work. The literature reviewed reveals that the developing lens has been, and will continue to be, a useful model system for the examination of many fundamental processes occurring during embryonic development. Areas of lens development reviewed here include: the induction and early embryology of the lens; lens cell culture techniques; the role of growth factors and cytokines; the involvement of gap junctions in lens cell-cell communication; the role of cell adhesion molecules, integrins, and the extracellular matrix; the role of the cytoskeleton; the processes of programmed cell death (apoptosis) and lens fibre cell denucleation; the involvement of Pax and Homeobox genes; and crystallin gene regulation. Finally, some speculation is provided as to possible directions for further research in lens development.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / physiology*
  • Cell Communication / physiology
  • Cell Differentiation / drug effects
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cytokines / pharmacology
  • Cytokines / physiology*
  • Cytoskeleton
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Embryonic Induction
  • Epidermal Growth Factor / physiology
  • Extracellular Matrix / physiology
  • Eye Proteins
  • Fibroblast Growth Factors / pharmacology
  • Fibroblast Growth Factors / physiology
  • Forecasting
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Genes, Homeobox
  • Homeodomain Proteins*
  • Humans
  • Insulin / pharmacology
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / pharmacology
  • Lens, Crystalline / cytology
  • Lens, Crystalline / embryology*
  • Lens, Crystalline / physiology*
  • Macrophage Migration-Inhibitory Factors / physiology
  • PAX6 Transcription Factor
  • Paired Box Transcription Factors
  • Platelet-Derived Growth Factor / physiology
  • Repressor Proteins
  • Transforming Growth Factor alpha / pharmacology
  • Transforming Growth Factor alpha / physiology
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / pharmacology
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / physiology


  • Cytokines
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Eye Proteins
  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • Insulin
  • Macrophage Migration-Inhibitory Factors
  • PAX6 Transcription Factor
  • PAX6 protein, human
  • Paired Box Transcription Factors
  • Platelet-Derived Growth Factor
  • Repressor Proteins
  • Transforming Growth Factor alpha
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta
  • Fibroblast Growth Factors
  • Epidermal Growth Factor
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I