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When poor communication pokes you in the eye
Date:4/7/2008

The development of the eye in mammals (and this naturally includes humans) is an extraordinarily complex process beginning in an early embryonic phase. The same applies also to the formation in healthy eyes of elastic and transparent lenses, which focus light beams. With the aid of the ciliary muscles, the lens can change its degree of curvature and thus set itself on varied, far distant objects. As a result, a pin sharp image is created on the retina. As with humans, with mice too, the development of the lens starts with the formation of a spherical, hollow sac, Graw says. That is the lens vesicle, the cover of which is surrounded by the lens epithelium, composed of a layer of cells. The vesicle is then filled in with fiber cells. In the following course of development, additional fibers originate in the equator of the lens. These scale up the diameter of the lens: a process that lasts a lifetime.

But not so with the Aey12 mouse mutants, which Graws eye researchers in the study group Molecular Eye Development have iknvestigated in detail. The animals of this line are distinguished by their unusually small eyes, a microphthalmia. Combined with cataracts, this dosorder is also known in humans and leads nearly always to blindness. With Aey12 mice, the early development of the eye lens is strongly affected. As the scientists in the current issue of the well-known, American journal in the field of ophthalmology, Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences, report, with the mutant mice, the growth of the fibers that fill up the body of the lenses, is completely blocked. What remains is then a cloudy and functionless small lens sac, Oliver Puk adds, the first author of the study. The animals thereby lose their sight almost completely.

As the scientists in the current study were able to show, the basis of the disease is a defect in a hitherto unknown gene. Genes are units of the hereditary DNA molecule that contains blueprints for proteins. Errors
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Contact: Dr. Jochen Graw
graw@helmholtz-muenchen.de
49-893-187-2610
Helmholtz Zentrum Mnchen - German Research Center for Environmental Health
Source:Eurekalert

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