The developing eye lens presents an exceptional paradigm for spatial transcriptomics. It is composed of highly organized long, slender transparent fiber cells, which differentiate from the edges of the anterior epithelium of the lens (equator), attended by high expression of crystallins, which generates transparency. Every fiber cell, therefore, is an optical unit whose refractive properties derive from its gene activity. Here, we probe this tangible relationship between the gene activity and the phenotype by studying the expression of all known 17 crystallins and 77 other non-crystallin genes in single fiber cells isolated from three states/regions of differentiation, allowing us to follow molecular progression at the single-cell level. The data demonstrate highly variable gene activity in cortical fibers, interposed between the nascent and the terminally differentiated fiber cell transcription. These data suggest that the so-called stochastic, highly heterogeneous gene activity is a regulated intermediate in the realization of a functional phenotype.
- Biological Sciences Research Methodologies
- Cell Biology
- Developmental Biology
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