Infoscience

Journal article

Hes1 regulates corneal development and the function of corneal epithelial stem/progenitor cells

Hes1, a major target gene in Notch signaling, regulates the fate and differentiation of various cell types in many developmental systems. To gain a novel insight into the role of Hes1 in corneal tissue, we performed gain-of-function and loss-of-function studies. We show that corneal development was severely disturbed in Hes1-null mice. Hes1-null corneas manifested abnormal junctional specialization, cell differentiation, and less cell proliferation ability. Worthy of note, Hes1 is expressed mainly in the corneal epithelial stem/progenitor cells and is not detected in the differentiated corneal epithelial cells. Expression of Hes1 is closely linked with corneal epithelial stem/progenitor cell proliferation activity in vivo. Moreover, forced Hes1 expression inhibits the differentiation of corneal epithelial stem/progenitor cells and maintains these cells' undifferentiated state. Our data provide the first evidence that Hes1 regulates corneal development and the homeostatic function of corneal epithelial stem/progenitor cells.

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