Steven Bassnett, Ph.D.

Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences
Cell Biology and Physiology

Molecular Cell Biology Program
Developmental, Regenerative and Stem Cell Biology Program

  • 314-362-1604

  • 314-362-2699

  • 314-362-3638

  • 8096

  • 1117 and 1118 McMillan Building



  • cataract, differentiation, imaging, stem cells, Marfan syndrome, fibrillin, modeling, glaucoma, imaging

  • Cell and molecular biology of the ocular lens

Research Abstract:

We study the development, biology, and pathology of the image-forming tissues located at the front of the eye. Small changes in the size or shape of ocular structures can have profound effects on vision but the mechanisms that control the growth of ocular tissues are not well understood. We use mathematical models in conjunction with cell lineage tracing and in vivo imaging to understand how the growth of the lens is specified. One interesting aspect of these studies is the relationship between the physical forces acting on ocular tissues and the growth response of those tissues. For example, mutations in the proteins that make up the ciliary zonule (the system of elastic fibers that suspends the lens in the eye) are associated with microspherophakia (a lens that is too spherical and too small). We are trying to understand the nature of the forces exerted by the zonular fibers on the lens surface and has these are transduced into appropriate growth responses. The lens growth process may also be related to the development of cataract, the major cause of blindness worldwide. Using our growth models we study how mutations generated in sun-exposed lens progenitors may be amplified by clonal growth and ultimately deposited as wedge-shaped opacities in the lens cortex.

Selected Publications:

Majtan, T., Jones, W., Krijt, J., Park, I., Kruger, W.D., Kozich, V., Bassnett, S., & Kraus, J.P. (2018) Enzyme replacement therapy ameliorates multiple symptoms of murine homocystinuria. Molecular Therapy, 26(3):834-844. PMCID: PMC5910661.

De Maria, A., Zhao, H.,& Bassnett, S. (2018) Expression of potassium-dependent sodium-calcium exchanger in developing mouse lens. Experimental Eye Research, 167:18-24. PMCID:PMC6811377.

Vinberg, F., Wang, T., De Maria, A., Zhao, H., Bassnett, S., Chen, J., & Kefalov, V. (2017). The Na+/Ca2+, K+ exchanger NCKX4 is required for efficient cone-mediated vision. Elife. e24550. PMCID: PMC5515578.

Šikić, H., & Bassnett, S. (2017). The lens growth process. Progress in Retinal and Eye Research, 60:181-200. PMCID:PMC5605917.

Šikić, H., Shi, Y., Lubura, S., & Bassnett, S. (2017) A full lifespan model of vertebrate lens growth. Royal Society Open Science, 4(1):160521. PMCID:PMC5319337.

De Maria, A., Wilmarth, P.A., David, L.L., & Bassnett, S. (2017) Proteomic analysis of the bovine and human ciliary zonule. Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences 58(1):573-585. PMCID:PMC5283081.

Mesa, R., Tyagi, M., Harocopos, G., Vollman, D., & Bassnett ,S. (2016) Somatic variants in the human lens epithelium: A preliminary assessment. Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences. 57(10):4063-4075. PMCID:PMC4986767.

Bassnett, S., & Costello, M.J.. (2017) The cause and consequence of fiber cell compaction in the vertebrate lens. Experimental Eye Research, 156:50-57. PMCID:PMC5293679.

De Maria, A., & Bassnett, S. (2015) Birc7: a late fiber gene of the crystalline lens. Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, 56(8):48234-34. PMCID:PMC4520384.

Last Updated: 7/27/2018 11:26:17 AM

The ciliary zonule (shown here in blue) is a system of extracellular fibrillin-rich fibers that suspends the lens in the eye. Mutations in genes encoding zonular components have catastrophic effects on vision and underlie conditions such as Marfan syndrome and Weill-Marchesani syndrome.
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