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The work of the Lens Research Laboratory is primarily directed at identifying the molecules and mechanisms that govern the behaviour of cells of the ocular lens, in health, ageing and disease. Our studies have identified a number of molecules that play key roles in both normal and pathological lens development and growth. Using a range of in vitro and in vivo models, we are working to gain a better understanding of how these molecules are regulated in the eye. This is fundamental to identifying new therapeutics for retarding or preventing cataract, one of the most common and costly diseases of ageing.

Research achievements


Lovicu FJ and Robinson ML (editors). 2004. “Development of the Ocular Lens”. Cambridge University Press. New York.

Saika S, Werner L & Lovicu FJ. (editors). 2014. “Lens Epithelium and Posterior Capsular Opacification”. Springer. Tokyo.

Book Chapters

Robinson ML, Lovicu FJ. 2004. The Lens: Historical and Comparative Perspectives. In “Development of the Ocular Lens”. Eds. Lovicu FJ and Robinson ML. pp 3-26. Cambridge University Press. New York.

Lovicu FJ, McAvoy JW. 2008. Epithelial explants and their application to study developmental processes in the lens. In “Animal Models in Eye Research.” Eds. P.A. Tsonis. Elsevier, Academic Press. pp: 134-147.

Lovicu FJ, Iyengar L, Dawes LJ and McAvoy JW. 2014. Lens Epithelial Cell Proliferation. In “Lens Epithelium and Posterior Capsular Opacification.” Eds. Saika S, Werner L & Lovicu FJ. Springer-Tokyo. pp 59-80.

Invited Reviews

McAvoy JW, Chamberlain CG, Richardson NA, Lovicu FJ. 1991. Fibroblast growth factor, a lens-inducing molecule from the retina. In 'New Frontiers in Ophthalmology'. Ed CY Khoo, Elsevier Science Publishers, Amsterdam. pp: 627-631.

McAvoy JW, Chamberlain CG, de Iongh RU, Richardson NA, Lovicu FJ. 1991. The role of fibroblast growth factor in eye lens development. Ann NY Acad Sci. USA. 638:256-274.

McAvoy JW, Chamberlain CG, de Iongh RU, Hales AM, Lovicu FJ. 1999. Lens development. Eye. 13:425-437.

McAvoy JW, Chamberlain CG, de Iongh RU, Hales AM, Lovicu FJ. 2000. Peter Bishop Lecture: growth factors in lens development and cataract: key roles for fibroblast growth factor and TGF-beta. Clin. Experiment. Ophthalmol. 28:133-139.

Lovicu FJ, McAvoy JW. 2005. Growth Factor Regulation Of Lens Development. Dev. Biol. 280:1-14.

de Iongh RU, Wederell E, Lovicu FJ, McAvoy JW. 2005. Transforming growth factor-ß-induced epithelial-mesenchymal transition in the lens: a model for cataract formation. Cells Tissues Organs. 179:43-55.

West-Mays JA, Pino G, Lovicu FJ. 2010. Development and use of the lens epithelial explant system to study lens differentiation and cataractogenesis. Prog Ret Eye Res. 29:135-143.

Lovicu FJ, McAvoy JW, de Iongh RU. 2011. Understanding the role of growth factors in embryonic development: insights from the lens. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B. 366:1204-1218.

Cheung FSG, Lovicu FJ, Reichardt JKV. 2012. Current progress in using Vitamin D and its analogs for cancer prevention and treatment. Expert Review of Anticancer Therapy. 12:811-837.

Lovicu FJ, EH Shin, McAvoy JW. 2015. Fibrosis in the Lens. Sprouty regulation of TGFß-signaling prevents lens EMT leading to cataract. Exp Eye Res. 2015 May 20. pii: S0014-4835(15)00038-X. doi: 10.1016/j.exer.2015.02.004. [Epub ahead of print] Review.

Research Articles

Lovicu FJ, McAvoy JW. 1989. Structural analysis of lens epithelial explants induced to differentiate into fibres by fibroblast growth factor (FGF). Exp. Eye Res. 49:479-494.

Lovicu FJ, McAvoy JW. 1992. The age of rats affects response of lens epithelial explants to fibroblast growth factor: an ultrastructural analysis. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 33:2269-2278.

Lovicu FJ, McAvoy JW. 1993. A structural analysis of fibroblast growth factor (FGF)-induced lens fibre differentiation in vitro. J. Comput. Assist. Microsc. 5:57-63.

Lovicu FJ, McAvoy JW. 1993. Localisation of aFGF, bFGF and HSPG in rat lens: implications for lens polarity and growth patterns. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 34:3355-3365.

Lovicu FJ, Chamberlain CG, McAvoy JW. 1995. Differential effects of aqueous and vitreous on fiber differentiation and extracellular matrix accumulation in lens epithelial explants. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 36:1459-1469.

de Iongh RU, Lovicu FJ, Hanneken A, Baird A, McAvoy JW. 1996. FGF receptor-1 (flg) expression is correlated with fibre differentiation during rat lens morphogenesis. Developmental Dynamics. 206:412-426.

Lovicu FJ, de Iongh RU, McAvoy JW. 1997. Expression of FGF-1 and FGF-2 mRNA during lens morphogenesis, differentiation and growth. Curr. Eye Res. 16:222-230.

de Iongh RU, Lovicu FJ, Chamberlain CG, McAvoy JW. 1997. Differential expression of FGF receptors during ocular development. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 38:1688-1699.

Lovicu FJ, Overbeek PA. 1998. Overlapping effects of different members of the FGF family on lens fiber differentiation in transgenic mice. Development. 125: 3365-3377.

Srinivasan, Y., Lovicu FJ, Overbeek PA. 1998. Lens-specific expression of Transforming Growth Factor ß1 in Transgenic Mice Causes Anterior Subcapsular Cataracts. J. Clinical Investigation. 101: 625-634.

Lovicu FJ, McAvoy, JW. 1999. Spatial and temporal expression of p57KIP2 during murine lens development. Mechanisms of Development. 86: 165-169.

Lovicu FJ, Kao W-K, Overbeek PA. 1999. Ectopic gland induction by lens-specific expression of keratinocyte growth factor (FGF-7) in transgenic mice. Mechanisms of Development. 88:43-53

Adams DJ, van der Weyden L, Kovacic A, Lovicu FJ, Copeland NG, Gilbert DJ, Jenkins NA, Ioannou PA and Morris BJ. 2000. Chromosomal localization and characterization of the mouse human zinc finger protein 265 gene. Cytogenetics and Cell Genetics. 88:68-73.

Lovicu FJ, Kolle G, Yamada T, Little MH and McAvoy JW. 2000. Expression of Crim1 during murine ocular development. Mechanisms of Development. 94:261-265.

de Iongh, RU., Lovicu, FJ, Overbeek, P. A., Schneider, MD., Joya, J., Hardeman, E. and McAvoy, JW. (2001). Requirement for TGFß receptor signaling during terminal lens fiber differentiation. Development. 128:3995-4010.

Zhao S, Hung F-C, Colvin J. S, White, A., Dai, W., Lovicu FJ, Ornitz, D.M., and Overbeek P.A. 2001. Patterning the optic neuroepithelium by FGF signaling and Ras activation. Development. 128, 5051-5060.

Lovicu FJ, and McAvoy, JW. (2001). FGF-induced lens cell proliferation and differentiation is dependent on MAPK (ERK1/2) signalling. Development. 128. 5075-5084.

Lovicu FJ, Schulz M, Hales AM, Vincent L, Overbeek PA, Chamberlain CG, and McAvoy JW. 2002. TGFß induces the morphological and molecular changes similar to human anterior subcapsular cataract. Brit. J. Ophthal. 86, 220-226.

Kok A, Lovicu FJ, Chamberlain CG and McAvoy JW. 2002. PDGF influences proliferation and potentiates FGF-induced fibre differentiation in lens epithelial explants. Growth Factors. 20:27-34.

Maruno K, Lovicu FJ , Chamberlain CG and McAvoy JW. 2002. Apoptosis is a feature of TGFß-induced cataract. Clinical and Experimental Optometry. 85:76-82.

Bradbury RA, Cropley J, Kifor O, Lovicu FJ, de Iongh RU, Kable E, Brown EM, Seely EW, Peat BB, Conigrave AD. 2002. Localization of the extracellular Ca2+-sensing receptor in the human placenta. Placenta. 2002. 23:192-200.

Stump RJW, Ang S, Chen Y, von Bahr T, Lovicu FJ, Pinson K, de Iongh RU, Yamaguchi TP, Sasoon DA, McAvoy JW. (2003) A role for Wnt/ß-catenin signalling in lens epithelial differentiation. Dev. Biol. 259:48-61.

Yager M, Hughes JAI, Lovicu FJ, Gunning PW, Weinberger RP, O’Neill, GM. 2003. Functional analysis of the actin-binding protein, tropomyosin 1, in neuroblastoma. Br J Cancer. 89:860-863.
Ang SJ, Stump RJW, Lovicu FJ, McAvoy JW. 2004. Spatial and temporal expression of Wnt and Dickkopf genes during murine lens development. Gene Expression Patterns, 4: 289–295.

Lovicu FJ, Steven P, Saika S,. McAvoy JW. 2004. Aberrant lens fiber differentiation contributes to anterior subcapsular cataract formation in vivo: a process dependent on reduced levels of Pax6. Invest. Ophthal. Vis. Sci. 45:1946-1953.

Thompson J., Lovicu F., Ziman M. 2004. The role of Pax7 in determining the cytoarchitecture of the superior colliculus. Dev. Growth Differ. 46:213-218.

Chen Y, Stump RJW, Lovicu FJ, McAvoy JW. 2004. Expression of Frizzleds and secreted frizzled-related proteins (sFRPs) during rodent lens development. Int. J. Dev. Biol. 48:867-877.

Lovicu FJ, Ang S, Chorazyczewska M, McAvoy JW. 2004. Deregulation of Lens Epithelial Cell Proliferation and Differentiation during the Development of TGFß-induced Anterior Subcapsular Cataract. Dev. Neurosci. 26:446-455.

Symonds JG, Lovicu FJ, Chamberlain CG. 2006. Posterior capsule opacification-like changes in rat lens explants cultured with TGFb and FGF: Effects of cell coverage and regional differences. Exp. Eye Res. 82:693-699.

30. Iyengar L, Patkunanathan B, Lynch OT, McAvoy JW, Rasko JEJ, Lovicu FJ. 2006. Aqueous humour- and growth factor-induced lens cell proliferation is dependent on MAPK/ERK1/2 and Akt/PI3-K signalling. Exp. Eye Res. 83:667-78.

Symonds JG, Lovicu FJ, Chamberlain CG. 2006. Differing effects of dexamethasone and diclofenac on posterior capsule opacification-like changes in a rat lens explant model. Exp. Eye Res. 83:771-82.

Stump RJW, Lovicu FJ, Ang S, Pandey SK, McAvoy JW. 2006. Lithium stabilises the polarised lens epithelial phenotype and inhibits proliferation, migration and epithelial mesenchymal transition. J. Pathology. 210:249-57.

Adams DJ, Head GA, Markus MA, Lovicu FJ, van der Weyden L, Köntgen F, Arends MJ, Thiru S, Mayorov DN, Morris BJ. 2006. Renin enhancer is critical for control of renin gene expression and cardiovascular function. J Biol Chem. 281:31753-61.

Chen Y, Stump RJW, Lovicu FJ, McAvoy JW. 2006. A role for Wnt/Planar Cell Polarity signaling during lens fiber cell differentiation? Semin Cell Dev Biol. 17:712-25.

Boros J, Newitt P, Wang Q, McAvoy JW, Lovicu FJ. 2006. Sef and Sprouty expression in the developing ocular lens: implications for regulating lens cell proliferation and differentiation. Semin Cell Dev Biol. 17:741-52.

Lovicu FJ. 2006. Cell Signaling in Lens Development. Semin Cell Dev Biol. 17:675.

Thompson J, Lovicu FJ, Ziman M. 2006. Pax7 regulation of superior collicular topography: insights from Pax6 (Sey) mutant mice. Exp Brain Res. 178:316-25.

Pennisi DJ, Wilkinson L, Kolle G, Sohaskey ML, Gillinder K, Piper MJ, McAvoy JW, Lovicu FJ, Little MH. 2007. Crim1KST264/KST264 mice display a disruption of the Crim1 gene resulting in perinatal lethality with defects in multiple organ systems. Dev Dyn. 236:502-11.

Iyengar L, Wang Q, Rasko JEJ, McAvoy JW, Lovicu FJ. 2007. The duration of MAPK/ERK1/2 phosphorylation induced by FGF or ocular media determines lens cell fate. Differentiation. 75:662-668.

40. Jamieson RV, Farrar N, Stewart K, Perveen R, Mihelec M, Carette M, Grigg JR, McAvoy JW, Lovicu FJ, Tam PPL, Scambler P, Lloyd IC, Donnai D, Black GCM. 2007. Characterisation of a familial t(16;22) balanced translocation associated with congenital cataract leads to identification of a novel gene, TMEM114, expressed in the lens and disrupted by the translocation. Human Mutation. 28:968-977.

Markus MA, Goy C, Adams DJ, Lovicu FJ, Morris BJ. 2007. Renin enhancer is crucial for full response in renin expression to an in vivo stimulus. Hypertension. 50:933-938.

O'Connor MD, Wederell ED, de Iongh R, Lovicu FJ, McAvoy JW. 2008. Generation of transparency and cellular organization in lens explants. Exp Eye Res. 86:734-745.
Chen Y, Stump RJW, Lovicu FJ, Shimono A, McAvoy JW. 2008. Wnt signaling is required for organization of the lens fiber cell cytoskeleton and development of lens three-dimensional architecture. Developmental Biology. 324:161-176.

Chong CC, Stump RJ, Lovicu FJ, McAvoy JW. 2009. TGFß promotes Wnt expression during cataract development. Exp Eye Res. 88:307-313.

Wang Q, Stump R, McAvoy JW, Lovicu FJ. 2009. MAPK/ERK1/2 and PI3-kinase signalling pathways are required for vitreous-induced lens fibre cell differentiation. Exp Eye Res. 88: 293-306.

Iyengar L, Patkunanathan B, McAvoy JW, Lovicu FJ. (2009). Growth factors involved in aqueous humour-induced lens cell proliferation. Growth Factors. 27:50-6

Alibardi L, Lovicu FJ. 2010. Immunolocalization of FGF1 and FGF2 in the regenerating tail of the lizard Lmpropholis guichenoti: implications for FGFs as trophic factors in lizard tail regeneration. Acta Histochemica. 112:459-473.

Sugiyama Y, Stump R, Nguyen A, Wen L, Chen Y, Wang Y, Murdoch J, Lovicu FJ, McAvoy, J.W. 2010. Secreted frizzled-related protein disrupts PCP in eye lens fiber cells that have polarised primary cilia. Dev Biol. 338:193-201.

Wang Q, McAvoy JW, Lovicu FJ. 2010. Growth factor signalling in vitreous-induced lens fiber differentiation. IOVS, 51:3599-3610.

Newitt P, Boros J, Madakashira BP, Robinson ML, Reneker LW, McAvoy JW, Lovicu FJ. 2010. Sef is a negative regulator of fiber cell differentiation in the ocular lens. Differentiation, 80: 53-67.

Kallifatidis G, Boros J, Shin E-H, McAvoy JW, Lovicu FJ. 2011. The fate of dividing cells during lens morphogenesis, differentiation and growth. Exp. Eye Res. 92:502-511.

Sugiyama Y, Lovicu FJ, McAvoy JW. 2011. Planar cell polarity in the mammalian eye lens. Organogenesis. 7:191-201.

Shin EH, Basson MA, Robinson ML, McAvoy JW, Lovicu FJ. 2012. Sprouty is a negative regulator of TGF?-induced epithelial-mesenchymal transition and cataract in mice. Mol Medicine. 18:861-873.

Madakashira BP, Kobrinski DA, Hancher AD, Arneman EC, Wagner BD, Wang F, Shin EH, Lovicu FJ, Reneker LW, Robinson ML. 2012. Frs2? enhances fibroblast growth factor-mediated survival and differentiation in lens development. Development. 139:4601-4612.

Dawes LJ, Sugiyama Y, Tanedo A, Lovicu FJ, McAvoy JW. 2013. Wnt-Frizzled signaling is part of an FGF-induced cascade that promotes lens fiber differentiation. IOVS. 54:1582-1590.

Wang C, Dawes LJ, Liu Y, Wen L, Lovicu FJ, McAvoy JW. 2013. Dexamethasone influences FGF-induced responses in lens epithelial explants and promotes the posterior capsule coverage that is a feature of glucocorticoid-induced cataract. Exp Eye Res. 111:79-87.

Sugiyama Y, Shelley EJ, Wen L, Stump RJ, Shimono A, Lovicu FJ, McAvoy JW. 2013. Sfrp1 and Sfrp2 are not involved in Wnt-ß-catenin signal silencing during lens induction but are required for maintenance of Wnt-ß-catenin signaling in lens epithelial cells. Dev. Biol. 384:181-193.

Dawes LJ, Sugiyama Y, Lovicu FJ, Harris C, Shelley EJ, McAvoy JW. 2014. Interactions between lens epithelial and fibre cells reveal an intrinsic self-assembly mechanism. Dev Biol. 385:291-303.

Assinder S, Beniamen D, Lovicu FJ. 2015. Co-suppression of Sprouty (SPRY) and Sprouty-related (SPRED) negative regulators of FGF signalling in prostate cancer: A working hypothesis. In “Signal Transduction Inhibitors as Promising Anticancer Agents”. Biomedical Research International (in press, Nov, 2014).

Zhao G, Wojciechowski MC, Jee S, Boros J,. McAvoy JW, Lovicu FJ. 2015. Negative regulation of TGFß-induced lens epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) by RTK antagonists. Exp Eye Res (Jan 7;132C:9-16. doi: 10.1016/j.exer.2015.01.001. [Epub ahead of print]).

Shin EH, Zhao, G, Wang Q, Lovicu FJ. 2015. Sprouty gain of function disrupts lens cellular processes and growth by restricting RTK signaling (Dev. Biol. in press. Sept 10, 2015).


Frank Lovicu || (+612) 9351 5170 || frank.lovicu@sydney.edu.au
Room S252, Anderson Stuart building, Camperdown campus