Ion Transport Regulation by TRPV4 and TRPV1 in Lens and Ciliary Epithelium

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6 Scopus citations


Aside from a monolayer of epithelium at the anterior surface, the lens is formed by tightly compressed multilayers of fiber cells, most of which are highly differentiated and have a limited capacity for ion transport. Only the anterior monolayer of epithelial cells has high Na, K-ATPase activity. Because the cells are extensively coupled, the lens resembles a syncytium and sodium-potassium homeostasis of the entire structure is largely dependent on ion transport by the epithelium. Here we describe recent studies that suggest TRPV4 and TRPV1 ion channels activate signaling pathways that play an important role in matching epithelial ion transport activity with needs of the lens cell mass. A TRPV4 feedback loop senses swelling in the fiber mass and increases Na, K-ATPase activity to compensate. TRPV4 channel activation in the epithelium triggers opening of connexin hemichannels, allowing the release of ATP that stimulates purinergic receptors in the epithelium and results in the activation of Src family tyrosine kinases (SFKs) and SFK-dependent increase of Na, K-ATPase activity. A separate TRPV1 feedback loop senses shrinkage in the fiber mass and increases NKCC1 activity to compensate. TRPV1 activation causes calcium-dependent activation of a signaling cascade in the lens epithelium that involves PI3 kinase, ERK, Akt and WNK. TRPV4 and TRPV1 channels are also evident in the ciliary body where Na, K-ATPase is localized on one side of a bilayer in which two different cell types, non-pigmented and pigmented ciliary epithelium, function in a coordinated manner to secrete aqueous humor. TRPV4 and TRPV1 may have a role in maintenance of cell volume homeostasis as ions and water move through the bilayer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number834916
JournalFrontiers in Physiology
StatePublished - Jan 31 2022


  • K-ATPase activity
  • NKCC1
  • Na
  • TRPV1
  • TRPV4
  • ciliary epithelium
  • lens epithelium

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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