Indexed on: 17 May '06Published on: 17 May '06Published in: Journal of experimental zoology. Part A, Comparative experimental biology
Previously, the only anuran amphibians known to have the capacity to regenerate a lens after lentectomy were Xenopus laevis and Xenopus tropicalis. This regeneration process occurs during the larval life through transdifferentiation of the outer cornea promoted by inductive factors produced by the retina and accumulated inside the vitreous chamber. However, the capacity of X. tropicalis to regenerate a lens is much lower than that of X. laevis. This study demonstrates that Xenopus borealis, a species more closely related to X. laevis than to X. tropicalis, is not able to regenerate a lens after lentectomy. Nevertheless, some morphological modifications corresponding to the first stages of lens regeneration in X. laevis were observed in the outer cornea of X. borealis. This suggested that in X borealis the regeneration process was blocked at early stages. Results from histological analysis of X. borealis and X. laevis lentectomized eyes and from implantation of outer cornea fragments into the vitreous and anterior chambers demonstrated that: (i) in X. borealis eye, the lens-forming competence in the outer cornea and inductive factors in the vitreous chamber are both present, (ii) no inhibiting factors are present in the anterior chamber, the environment where lens regeneration begins, (iii) the inability of X. borealis to regenerate a lens after lentectomy is due to an inhibiting action exerted by the inner cornea on the spreading of the retinal factor from the vitreous chamber towards the outer cornea. This mechanical inhibition is assured by two distinctive features of X. borealis eye in comparison with X. laevis eye: (i) a weaker and slower response to the retinal inducer by the outer cornea; (ii) a stronger and faster healing of the inner cornea. Unlike X. tropicalis and similar to X. laevis, in X. borealis the competence to respond to the retinal factor is not restricted to the corneal epithelium but also extends to the pericorneal epidermis.