The capsules (with epithelial cells attached) of lenses from normal and cataractous mice (Nakano strain) were biosynthetically labeled in vitro with radioactive precursors. The labeled macro-molecules were chromatographed on a Sepharose CL-4B column and analyzed by specific enzyme digestion. The incorporation of [3H]-proline and [3H]-glucosamine into macromolecules was comparable in the cataract and normal capsules, while that of [35S]-sulfate was reduced by 60% in the cataract capsules, indicating that the proteoglycan synthesis was specifically decreased in the cataract lens. Glycosaminoglycan analyses showed an increased synthesis of hyaluronic acid and decreased synthesis of heparan sulfate in the cataract capsules. It is possible that the alterations in the synthetic level and glycosaminoglycan components of proteoglycan affect the permeabilities of macromolecules to lens capsule and lead to cataract in Nakano mouse lens.
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