Int. J. Dev. Biol. 48: 867 - 877 (2004)
doi: 10.1387/ijdb.041882yc
© UPV/EHU Press

Expression of Frizzleds and secreted frizzled-related proteins (Sfrps) during mammalian lens development

Yongjuan Chen1,2, Richard J.W. Stump1,3, Frank J. Lovicu1,2,3 and John W. McAvoy*,1,2,3

1Save Sight Institute, 2Dept. Anatomy & Histology, University of Sydney, NSW and 3The Vision CRC, University of New South Wales, NSW, Australia

ABSTRACT Recent studies indicate a role for Wnt signaling in regulating lens cell differentiation (Stump et al., 2003). Here we investigated expression patterns of Wnt receptors, the Frizzleds (Fzs) and the Wnt signaling regulators, the secreted frizzled-related proteins (Sfrps), during rodent lens development. RT-PCR showed that Fz receptors, Fz1-Fz8 are expressed in lens. In situ hybridization showed that all the Fz genes examined have similar expression patterns. Fzs are expressed throughout the early lens primordium. At embryonic day 14.5 (E14.5), Fz gene expression is predominantly localized to the epithelium and elongating cells at the lens equator. Fz expression is absent from lens fibers. This pattern of Fz gene expression continues throughout early postnatal development. Immunolocalization studies showed that Fz protein distribution closely follows that of the mRNAs. In addition, epithelial cells in FGF-treated explants show strongest Fz reactivity in cellular protrusions as they migrate and elongate. Sfrp1- Sfrp5 are expressed and all, except Sfrp2, have similar patterns of expression to each other and to the Fzs during lens development. Sfrp2 is strongly expressed in all lens pit cells but becomes restricted to the presumptive epithelial cells of the lens vesicle. By E14.5, Sfrp2 is only present in a few cells above the lens equator. Sfrp2 is not detected in the lens at E18.5 or at later stages. This study shows that multiple Fz and Sfrp genes are expressed during lens morphogenesis and differentiation. This is consistent with a role for Wnt-Fz signaling during both embryonic and postnatal lens development.

Keywords:

frizzled, secreted frizzled-related protein, lens development, growth factor, Wnt

*Corresponding author e-mail: johnm@eye.usyd.edu.au