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J Biol Chem. 2000 Dec 29;275(52):41064-73.

Omega -crystallin of the scallop lens. A dimeric aldehyde dehydrogenase class 1/2 enzyme-crystallin.

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Laboratory of Molecular and Developmental Biology and Laboratory of Mechanisms of Ocular Disease, National Eye Institute, and Center for Molecular Modeling, Center for Information Technology, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892, USA.


While many of the diverse crystallins of the transparent lens of vertebrates are related or identical to metabolic enzymes, much less is known about the lens crystallins of invertebrates. Here we investigate the complex eye of scallops. Electron microscopic inspection revealed that the anterior, single layered corneal epithelium overlying the cellular lens contains a regular array of microvilli that we propose might contribute to its optical properties. The sole crystallin of the scallop eye lens was found to be homologous to Omega-crystallin, a minor crystallin in cephalopods related to aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) class 1/2. Scallop Omega-crystallin (officially designated ALDH1A9) is 55-56% identical to its cephalopod homologues, while it is 67 and 64% identical to human ALDH 2 and 1, respectively, and 61% identical to retinaldehyde dehydrogenase/eta-crystallin of elephant shrews. Like other enzyme-crystallins, scallop Omega-crystallin appears to be present in low amounts in non-ocular tissues. Within the scallop eye, immunofluorescence tests indicated that Omega-crystallin expression is confined to the lens and cornea. Although it has conserved the critical residues required for activity in other ALDHs and appears by homology modeling to have a structure very similar to human ALDH2, scallop Omega-crystallin was enzymatically inactive with diverse substrates and did not bind NAD or NADP. In contrast to mammalian ALDH1 and -2 and other cephalopod Omega-crystallins, which are tetrameric proteins, scallop Omega-crystallin is a dimeric protein. Thus, ALDH is the most diverse lens enzyme-crystallin identified so far, having been used as a lens crystallin in at least two classes of molluscs as well as elephant shrews.

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