Development of a potent embryonic chick lens model for studying congenital cataracts in vivo

Zhen Li, Sumin Gu, Yumeng Quan, Kulandaiappan Varadaraj, Jean X. Jiang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Congenital cataracts are associated with gene mutations, yet the underlying mechanism remains largely unknown. Here we reported an embryonic chick lens model that closely recapitulates the process of cataract formation. We adopted dominant-negative site mutations that cause congenital cataracts, connexin, Cx50E48K, aquaporin 0, AQP0R33C, αA-crystallin, CRYAA R12C and R54C. The recombinant retroviruses containing these mutants were microinjected into the occlusive lumen of chick lenses at early embryonic development. Cx50E48K expression developed cataracts associated with disorganized nuclei and enlarged extracellular spaces. Expression of AQP0R33C resulted in cortical cataracts, enlarged extracellular spaces and distorted fiber cell organization. αA crystallin mutations distorted lens light transmission and increased crystalline protein aggregation. Together, retroviral expression of congenital mutant genes in embryonic chick lenses closely mimics characteristics of human congenital cataracts. This model will provide an effective, reliable in vivo system to investigate the development and underlying mechanism of cataracts and other genetic diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number325
JournalCommunications Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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