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J Biol Chem. 2007 Jun 29;282(26):18953-9. Epub 2007 Apr 23.

Ubiquitous lens alpha-, beta-, and gamma-crystallins accumulate in anuran cornea as corneal crystallins.

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  • 1Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Uppal Road, Hyderabad-500 007, India.


Corneal epithelium is known to have high levels of some metabolic enzymes such as aldehyde dehydrogenase in mammals, gelsolin in zebrafish, and alpha-enolase in several species. Analogous to lens crystallins, these enzymes and proteins are referred to as corneal crystallins, although their precise function is not established in any species. Although it is known that after lentectomy, the outer cornea undergoes transdifferentiation to regenerate a lens only in anuran amphibians, major proteins expressed in an anuran cornea have not been identified. This study therefore aimed to identify the major corneal proteins in the Indian toad (Bufo melanostictus) and the Indian frog (Rana tigrina). Soluble proteins of toad and frog corneas were resolved on two-dimensional gels and identified by matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization time-of-flight/time-of-flight and electrospray ionization quadrupole time-of-flight. We report that anuran cornea is made up of the full complement of ubiquitous lens alpha-, beta-, and gamma-crystallins, mainly localized in the corneal epithelium. In addition, some taxon-specific lens crystallins and novel proteins, such as alpha- or beta-enolase/tau-crystallin, were also identified. Our data present a unique case of the anuran cornea where the same crystallins are used in the lens and in the cornea, thus supporting the earlier idea that crystallins are essential for the visual functions of the cornea as they perform for the lens. High levels of lens alpha-, beta-, and gamma-crystallins have not been reported in the cornea of any species studied so far and may offer a possible explanation for their inability to regenerate a lens after lentectomy. Our data that anuran cornea has an abundant quantity of almost all the lens crystallins are consistent with its ability to form a lens, and this connection is worthy of further studies.

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