Development- and differentiation-dependent reorganization of intermediate filaments in fiber cells

T. N. Blankenship, J. F. Hess, Paul G FitzGerald

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


Purpose. To define the remodeling of lens fiber cell intermediate filaments (IF) that occurs with both development and differentiation. Methods. Prenatal and postnatal mice were probed for the IF proteins phakosin, filensin, and vimentin, using light microscope immunocytochemical methodology. Results. The pattern of vimentin accumulation in elongating fiber cells changed with development. Early in development vimentin first emerged predominantly as focal accumulations in the basal region of both epithelial and primary fiber cells. A light diffuse CyToplasmic staining was also noted. Later in embryonic development, and through maturity, vimentin in fiber cells was predominantly associated with the plasma membrane with no anterior-posterior polarity. Phakosin and filensin were first detected in the very latest stages of primary fiber elongation and continued to accumulate well after cells had completed elongation. Initially, these proteins accumulated in the anterior half of the fiber cells and were cytoplasmic in distribution. After P13, the pattern of initial distribution in differentiating fiber cells changed to a predominantly plasma membrane localization. Neither beaded filament protein showed focal basal accumulations. In mature lenses, all three proteins ultimately disappeared from the nuclear fiber cells. Conclusions. Beaded filament protein accumulation lags significantly behind both primary and secondary fiber cell elongation, suggesting a functional role subsequent to elongation. The subcellular distribution of vimentin and the beaded filament proteins showed marked differences within the cell, with differentiation, and with development. The differences in time of initial synthesis and in distribution of these IF proteins may bear on hypotheses about the role of IFs in fiber cell elongation and in structural-functional polarity of the fiber cell.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)735-742
Number of pages8
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology


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