A potential role for β- and γ-crystallins in the vascular remodeling of the eye



We demonstrate that expression of β- and γ-crystallins is associated with intraocular vessels during normal vascular development of the eye and also in the Nuc1 rat, a mutant in which the hyaloid vascular system fails to regress normally. Real-Time RT PCR, Western blot and metabolic labeling studies indicate an increased expression of β- and γ-crystallins in Nuc1 retina. The increased expression of crystallins was localized to the astrocytes surrounding the intraocular vessels. A similar pattern of crystallin expression was also observed in the retinal vessels during normal development. Cultured human astrocytes exposed to 3-nitropropionic acid, an established model of neuronal hypoxia, increased VEGF expression, as expected, but also increased expression of crystallins. Our data suggest that crystallins may function together with VEGF during vascular remodeling. Interestingly, in human PFV (persistent fetal vasculature) disease, where the hyaloid vasculature abnormally persists after birth, we show that astrocytes express both VEGF and crystallins. Developmental Dynamics 234:36–47, 2005. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.