Monkey and human lenses contain essentially the same glycosphingolipids, and Lewis(x) and sialylated Lewis(x) epitopes are expressed on the terminal structure of neolactotetraosylceramide. However, monolayer cultures of lens epithelial cells from rhesus monkey expressed gangliosides GM3, GD3 and a small amount of GM1, but not sialylated Lewis(x) epitopes. Eight-week-old cultures on various extracellular matrices resulted in morphological changes in lens epithelial cells. Monolayer of cells cultured on vitronectin or polylysine assembled into aggregates after 4 weeks of culture. Cells cultured on vitronectin expressed sialyl-Lewis(x) gangliosides and did not exhibit GD3. On collagens, fibronectin and laminin elongated cells were observed in cells cultured for 8 weeks. Thus, the interaction between cells and extracellular matrices influenced morphology and glycosphingolipid composition in lens epithelial cells.
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