by Xingjun Fan, Xiaoqin Liu, Shuyu Hao, Benlian Wang, Michael L. Robinson, Vincent M. Monnier
Age-related nuclear cataracts are associated with progressive post-synthetic modifications of crystallins from various physical chemical and metabolic insults, of which oxidative stress is a major factor. The latter is normally suppressed by high concentrations of glutathione (GSH), which however are very low in the nucleus of the old lens. Here we generated a mouse model of oxidant stress by knocking out glutathione synthesis in the mouse in the hope of recapitulating some of the changes observed in human age-related nuclear cataract (ARNC). A floxed Gclc mouse was generated and crossed with a transgenic mouse expressing Cre in the lens to generate the LEGSKO mouse in which de novo GSH synthesis was completely abolished in the lens. Lens GSH levels were reduced up to 60% in homozygous LEGSKO mice, and a decreasing GSH gradient was noticed from cortical to nuclear region at 4 months of age. Oxidation of crystallin methionine and sulfhydryls into sulfoxides was dramatically increased, but methylglyoxal hydroimidazolones levels that are GSH/glyoxalase dependent were surprisingly normal. Homozygous LEGSKO mice developed nuclear opacities starting at 4 months that progressed into severe nuclear cataract by 9 months. We conclude that the LEGSKO mouse lens mimics several features of human ARNC and is thus expected to be a useful model for the development of anti-cataract agents.