Rho GTPase inactivation impairs lens growth and integrity

Vasantha Rao, Eric Wawrousek, Ernst R. Tamm, Samuel Zigler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


To elucidate the significance of Rho GTPase signaling on lens growth and structural integrity, we have selectively inactivated Rho GTPase in the ocular lens. To achieve this tissue-specific inactivation, a transgene encoding the C3 exoenzyme from Clostridium botulinum has been expressed in mice under transcriptional control of the lens-specific αA-crystallin promoter. C3 exoenzyme is known to selectively inactivate all Rho GTPase isoforms by ADP-ribosylating an asparagine residue at position 41. Mice expressing the C3-exoenzyme transgene exhibited selective ocular defects, including cataract and microphthalmia. Extralenticular effects included ocular hemorrhage (blood accumulation in the anterior and posterior chambers of the eye) and abnormalities of the iris including focal attachments to lens and cornea (synechiae). C3-transgene expression was found only in the lens and not in the other ocular tissues as determined by RT-PCR analysis. Histologic examination of the eyes of C3 transgenic mice from two independent lines revealed extensive abnormalities of the lens, including defective fiber cell differentiation and elongation ruptured, posterior lens capsule, and thickened anterior lens capsule. Electron microscopic analysis of hemorrhaged C3 eyes showed abnormalities in the posterior hyaloid vessel. Collectively these data reveal the importance of Rho GTPase signaling in regulating lens growth and maintenance of lens transparency.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)231-239
Number of pages9
JournalLaboratory Investigation
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

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