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Keywords:

  • cornea;
  • limbus;
  • eye development;
  • collagen fibril assembly;
  • proteoglycans;
  • fibromodulin

Abstract

Fibromodulin regulates collagen fibrillogenesis, but its existence/role(s) in the cornea is controversial. We hypothesize that fibromodulin regulates fibrillogenesis during postnatal development of the anterior eye. Fibromodulin is weakly expressed in the limbus at post-natal day (P) 4, increases and extends into the central cornea at P14, becomes restricted to the limbus at P30, and decreases at P60. This differential spatial and temporal expression of fibromodulin is coordinated with emmetropization; the developmental increase in axial length and globe size. Genetic analysis demonstrated that fibromodulin regulates fibrillogenesis in a region-specific manner. At the limbus, fibromodulin is dominant in regulating fibril growth during postnatal development. In the posterior peripheral cornea, cooperative interactions of fibromodulin and lumican regulate fibrillogenesis. These data indicate that fibromodulin plays important roles in the regulation of region-specific fibrillogenesis required for the integration of the corneal and scleral matrices and sulcus development required for establishment of the visual axis. Developmental Dynamics 239:844–854, 2010. © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.