Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Biochemistry. 2002 Jan 15;41(2):483-90.

alpha-Crystallin chaperone-like activity and membrane binding in age-related cataracts.

Author information

  • 1Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri 63110, USA.


alpha-Crystallin, the major protein component of the vertebrate lens, is thought to play a critical role in the maintenance of transparency through its ability to inhibit stress-induced protein aggregation. However, during aging and cataract formation the amount of membrane-bound alpha-crystallin increases significantly while high molecular weight complexes (HMWCs) comprised of alpha-crystallin and other lens crystallins accumulate. These and other recent data suggest a possible link between cataract formation, the formation of high molecular weight alpha-crystallin aggregates, and the progressive increase in membrane association of alpha-crystallin. To better understand these processes, we characterized the chaperone-like activity (CLA) and subunit exchange of membrane bound alpha-crystallin. In addition, we measured the membrane binding properties of in vitro constituted HMWCs to understand the mechanism by which increased alpha-crystallin is bound to the membrane of old and cataractous lens cells in vivo. Membrane-associated alpha-crystallin complexes have measurably reduced CLA compared to complexes in solution; however, membrane binding does not alter the time required for alpha-crystallin complexes to reach subunit exchange equilibrium. In addition, HMWCs prepared in vitro have a profoundly increased membrane binding capacity as compared to native alpha-crystallin. These results are consistent with a model in which increased membrane binding of alpha-crystallin is an integral step in the pathogenesis of many forms of cataracts.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for American Chemical Society Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk