Herein, we review a unique and versatile lineage composed of Myo/Nog cells that may be beneficial or detrimental depending on their environment and nature of the pathological stimuli they are exposed to. While we will focus on the lens, related Myo/Nog cell behaviors and functions in other tissues are integrated into the narrative of our research that spans over three decades, examines multiple species and progresses from early stages of embryonic development to aging adults. Myo/Nog cells were discovered in the embryonic epiblast by their co-expression of the skeletal muscle-specific transcription factor MyoD, the bone morphogenetic protein inhibitor Noggin and brain-specific angiogenesis inhibitor 1. They were tracked from the epiblast into the developing lens, revealing heterogeneity of cell types within this structure. Depletion of Myo/Nog cells in the epiblast results in eye malformations arising from the absence of Noggin. In the adult lens, Myo/Nog cells are the source of myofibroblasts whose contractions produce wrinkles in the capsule. Eliminating this population within the rabbit lens during cataract surgery reduces posterior capsule opacification to below clinically significant levels. Parallels are drawn between the therapeutic potential of targeting Myo/Nog cells to prevent fibrotic disease in the lens and other ocular tissues.
Gerhart, Jacquelyn and George-Weinstein, Mindy, "Myo/Nog Cells: The Jekylls and Hydes of the Lens" (2023). PCOM Scholarly Papers. 2220.