Department of Biological Structure, University of Washington, School of Medicine, Seattle 98195-7420, USA.
The function of the cytoskeleton in lens was first considered when cytoplasmic microtubules were observed in elongating fibre cells of the chick lens nearly 40 years ago. Since that time, tubulin, actin, vimentin and intermediate filaments have been identified and found to function in mitosis, motility and cellular morphology during lens cell differentiation. A role for the cytoskeleton in accommodation has been proposed and modification of the cytoskeletal proteins has been observed in several cataract models. Recently, a progressive increase in protein aggregation and lens opacification was found to correspond with the loss of cytoskeletal protein in the selenite model for cataract. In the present report a model is proposed for the role of tubulin, actin, vimentin, spectrin and the lens-specific filaments, filensin and CP49, in the establishment and maintenance of transparent lens cell structure.