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Structure and distribution of gap junctions in lens epithelium and fiber cells


We report a comparative study of gap junctions in lens epithelia of frog, rabbit, rat and human, using a “double mounting” method for freeze-fracture electron microscopy. The gap junctions on the narrow sides of hexagonal cortical fiber cells of various species were also studied with the same technique. Gap junctions were commonly present between epithelial cells of the entire undifferentiated epithelium, between fiber cells on both wide and narrow sides, and between epithelial cells and fiber cells. Structural diversity of gap junctions, based on connexon arrangements, was evident in lens epithelia among the four species studied. Gap junctions with random arrays of connexons were found predominantly in frog lens epithelium, while the crystalline and striated configurations were mainly observed in the epithelia of human and rat, and of rabbit, respectively. On the other hand, there was no structural variation of gap junctions observed on either wide or narrow sides of lens fiber cells from any species studied. Only the random-type gap junction was found. However, the distribution of gap junctions was unique on the narrow sides. There was a single row of junctional plaques along the middle of the narrow sides, whereas the wide sides showed an uneven distribution pattern. The gap junctions between epithelial cells and fiber cells had a random packing of connexons.

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Correspondence to Dr. Woo-Kuen Lo.

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Lo, W., Harding, C.V. Structure and distribution of gap junctions in lens epithelium and fiber cells. Cell Tissue Res. 244, 253–263 (1986). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00219200

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Key words

  • Gap junction
  • Lens
  • Epithelium
  • Fiber cells
  • Freeze-fracture
  • Vertebrales