Imai, F., Yoshizawa, A., Fujimori-Tonou, N., Kawakami, K., and Masai, I. (2010) The ubiquitin proteasome system is required for cell proliferation of the lens epithelium and for differentiation of lens fiber cells in zebrafish. Development (Cambridge, England). 137(19):3257-3268.
In the developing vertebrate lens, epithelial cells differentiate into fiber cells, which are elongated and flat in shape and form a multilayered lens fiber core. In this study, we identified the zebrafish volvox (vov) mutant, which shows defects in lens fiber differentiation. In the vov mutant, lens epithelial cells fail to proliferate properly. Furthermore, differentiating lens fiber cells do not fully elongate, and the shape and position of lens fiber nuclei are affected. We found that the vov mutant gene encodes Psmd6, the subunit of the 26S proteasome. The proteasome regulates diverse cellular functions by degrading polyubiquitylated proteins. Polyubiquitylated proteins accumulate in the vov mutant. Furthermore, polyubiquitylation is active in nuclei of differentiating lens fiber cells, suggesting roles of the proteasome in lens fiber differentiation. We found that an E3 ubiquitin ligase anaphase-promoting complex/cyclosome (APC/C) is involved in lens defects in the vov mutant. These data suggest that the ubiquitin proteasome system is required for cell proliferation of lens epithelium and for the differentiation of lens fiber cells in zebrafish.