Prog Mol Biol Transl Sci 2015 12;134:129-67. Epub 2015 Jun 12.
Departments of Genetics and Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, New York, USA.
The eye and lens represent excellent models to understand embryonic development at cellular and molecular levels. Initial 3D formation of the eye depends on a reciprocal invagination of the lens placode/optic vesicle to form the eye primordium, i.e., the optic cup partially surrounding the lens vesicle. Subsequently, the anterior part of the lens vesicle gives rise to the lens epithelium, while the posterior cells of the lens vesicle differentiate into highly elongated lens fibers. Lens fiber differentiation involves cytoskeletal rearrangements, cellular elongation, accumulation of crystallin proteins, production of extracellular matrix for the lens capsule, and degradation of organelles. This chapter summarizes recent advances in lens development and provides insights into the regulatory mechanisms and differentiation at the level of chromatin structure and dynamics, the emerging field of noncoding RNAs, and novel strategies to fill the gaps in our understanding of lens development.