VIDEO: A team led by University of Delaware biologist Salil Lachke has identified the protein essential for eye lens development and clear vision. Without the protein, eyes will form cataracts; with… view more
If you want to take clear photographs, you don’t use sandpaper to clear a smudge from your camera’s lens. Similarly, if you want to see clearly, the lens of your eye has to be free of obstruction.
For that reason a curious thing happens during the development of eye lenses. Instead of closely guarding their nucleus and the DNA it contains – which normal cells do – most lens cells do the exact opposite. They actually degrade their own nuclei and other cell parts. If they were left in place, they would block clear vision causing cataracts at birth. Cataract disease, commonly found in the elderly, is a leading cause of blindness in the world.
Until now, scientists did not understand much about how these cells managed to do this – how they simultaneously pruned away obstructions without damaging proper development of the eye lens.
But now, in an article published in PLOS Genetics, University of Delaware biologist Salil Lachke and his collaborators show the protein (Celf1)
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