Matrix Metalloproteinase-9–Null Mice Are Resistant to TGF-β–Induced Anterior Subcapsular Cataract Formation
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Epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) is associated with fibrotic diseases in the lens, such as anterior subcapsular cataract (ASC) formation. Often mediated by transforming growth factor (TGF)-β, EMT in the lens involves the transformation of lens epithelial cells into a multilayering of myofibroblasts, which manifest as plaques beneath the lens capsule. TGF-β-induced EMT and ASC have been associated with the up-regulation of two matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs): MMP-2 and MMP-9. The current study used MMP-2 and MMP-9 knockout (KO) mice to further determine their unique roles in TGF-β-induced ASC formation. Adenoviral injection of active TGF-β1 into the anterior chamber of all wild-type and MMP-2 KO mice led to the formation of distinct ASC plaques that were positive for α-smooth muscle actin, a marker of EMT. In contrast, only a small proportion of the MMP-9 KO eyes injected with adenovirus-expressing TGF-β1 exhibited ASC plaques. Isolated lens epithelial explants from wild-type and MMP-2 KO mice that were treated with TGF-β exhibited features indicative of EMT, whereas those from MMP-9 KO mice did not acquire a mesenchymal phenotype. MMP-9 KO mice were further bred onto a TGF-β1 transgenic mouse line that exhibits severe ASC formation, but shows a resistance to ASC formation in the absence of MMP-9. These findings suggest that MMP-9 expression is more critical than MMP-2 in mediating TGF-β-induced ASC formation.
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