Investigating the role of arginine 21 in the structure and function of human [alpha]A-crystallin
[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT AUTHOR'S REQUEST.] Cataractogenesis in the eye lens occurs as a result of protein aggregation. Of the multiple mutations in [alpha]A-crystallins associated with the development of congenital hereditary cataract, three identified mutations target R21 within the N-terminal domain of the protein. On structural and functional characterization of a recently identified mutant of [alpha]A-crystallin, [alpha]A-R21Q, we revealed the contribution of R21 in dictating the interaction of [alpha]A-crystallin with other proteins. [Alpha]A-R21Q showed and enhanced chaperone-like function, and increased binding to lens fiber cell membranes. Transduction of mutant proteins in ARPE-19 cells prevented their apoptosis in the presence of oxidative stress, suggesting a role for R21 in modulating the anti-apoptotic function of [alpha]A-crystallin. In addition, the R21Q point mutation rescued the chaperone-like activity of [alpha]A-G98R crystallin as well as palliated [alpha]A-G98R mediated cytotoxicity otherwise observed in transduction experiments. Although another mutation, R157Q rescued the chaperone-like activity of [alpha]A-G98R, the double mutant exhibited a loss of its cytoprotective function. The results therefore implicate an important role of R21 in regulating the functional aspect of [alpha]A-crystallin. [Alpha]A-crystallin derived peptides have been shown to prevent non-specific aggregation of unfolding proteins in vitro. We show that the [alpha]A-crystallin derived mini-chaperone (mini-[alpha]A) mediated stabilization of self-aggregating [alpha]A-G98R crystallin and bovine [gamma]-crystallin occurs via compensation of lost surface charge. The observation therefore suggests a plausible mechanism of action of [alpha]A-crystallin derived peptides of therapeutic interest.
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