Fibrillin is an evolutionarily ancient protein that lends elasticity and resiliency to a variety of tissues. In humans, mutations in fibrillin-1 cause Marfan and related syndromes, conditions in which the eye is often severely affected. To gain insights into the ocular sequelae of Marfan syndrome, we targeted Fbn1 in mouse lens or non-pigmented ciliary epithelium (NPCE). Conditional knockout of Fbn1 in NPCE, but not lens, profoundly affected the ciliary zonule, the system of fibrillin-rich fibers that centers the lens in the eye. The tensile strength of the fibrillin-depleted zonule was reduced substantially, due to a shift toward production of smaller caliber fibers. By 3 months, zonular fibers invariably ruptured and mice developed ectopia lentis, a hallmark of Marfan syndrome. At later stages, untethered lenses lost their polarity and developed cataracts, and the length and volume of mutant eyes increased. This model thus captures key aspects of Marfan-related syndromes, providing insights into the role of fibrillin-1 in eye development and disease.
- Ciliary zonule
- Ectopia lentis
- Marfan syndrome
- Non-pigmented ciliary epithelium