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Keywords:

  • induction;
  • lens;
  • maf;
  • Pax6;
  • transcription factor

Since the pioneering work of the early 1900s, the lens has been used as a model system for the study of tissue development in vertebrates. A number of embryological transplantation experiments designed to elucidate the role of tissue interactions in the formation of the lens have led to the proposal of a stepwise determination model. This model has recently been refined through the identification of certain transcription factor genes, which exhibit distinct expression patterns and functional properties in the lens cell lineage. Otx2, Pax6, and Lens1 are induced by the adjacent anterior neural plate and expressed in predifferentiated lens ectoderm. Contact between the optic vesicle and lens ectoderm promotes expression of mafs, Soxs, and Prox1, which are responsible for the initiation of lens differentiation programs including crystallin expression, cell elongation, and cell cycle arrest. Further analysis of the expression and functional characteristics of these transcription factors will allow greater detail when describing the orchestration of genetic programs, which control tissue development from induction to maturation.