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Juan Lu, Jianhong An, Jiawei Wang, Xiaowen Cao, Yuqing Cao, Chengjie Huang, Shiming Jiao, Dongsheng Yan, Xinhua Lin, Xiangtian Zhou; Znhit1 Regulates p21Cip1 to Control Mouse Lens Differentiation. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2022;63(4):18. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/iovs.63.4.18.
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The transparency of the ocular lens is essential for refracting and focusing light onto the retina, and transparency is controlled by many factors and signaling pathways. Here we showed a critical role of chromatin remodeler zinc finger HIT-type containing 1 (Znhit1) in maintaining lens transparency.
To explore the roles of Znhit1 in lens development, the cre-loxp system was used to generate lens-specific Znhit1 knockout mice (Znhit1Mlr10-Cre; Znhit1 cKO). Morphological changes in mice lenses were examined using hematoxylin and eosin staining. RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) and assay for transposase accessible chromatin using sequencing (ATAC-seq) were applied to screen transcriptome changes. Immunofluorescence staining were performed to assess proteins distribution and terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase dUTP nick-end labeling staining were used for determining apoptosis. The mRNAs expression was examined by quantitative RT-PCR and proteins expression by Western blot.
Lens-specific conditional knockout mice had a severe cataract, microphthalmia phenotype, and seriously abnormal lens fiber cells differentiation. Deletion of Znhit1 in the lens resulted in decreased cell proliferation and increased cell apoptosis of the lens epithelia. ATAC-seq showed that Znhit1 deficiency increased chromatin accessibility of cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitors, including p57Kip2 and p21Cip1, and upregulated the expression of these genes in mRNA and protein levels. And we also showed that loss of Znhit1 lead to lens fibrosis by upregulating the expression of p21Cip1.
Our findings suggested that Znhit1 is required for the survival of lens epithelial cells. The loss of Znhit1 leads to the overexpression of p21Cip1, further resulting in lens fibrosis, and impacted the establishment of lens transparency.
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