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Cataract-causing G91del mutant destabilised βA3 heteromers formation linking with structural stability and cellular viability


Background/aims Congenital cataracts, which are genetically heterogeneous eye disorders, result in visual loss in childhood around the world. CRYBA1/BA3 serves as an abundant structural protein in the lens, and forms homomers and heteromers to maintain lens transparency. In previous study, we identified a common cataract-causing mutation, βA3-glycine at codon 91 (G91del) (c.271–273delGAG), which deleted a highly conserved G91del and led to perinuclear zonular cataract. In this study, we aimed to explore the underlying pathogenic mechanism of G91del mutation.

Methods Protein purification, size-exclusion chromatography, spectroscopy and molecular dynamics simulation assays were used to investigate the effects on the heteromers formation and the protein structural properties of βA3-crystallin caused by G91del mutation. Intracellular βA3-G91del overexpression, MTT (3-(4,5)-dimethylthiahiazo (-z-y1)-3,5-di-phenytetrazoliumromide) and cell apoptosis were used to investigate the cellular functions of βA3-G91del.

Results βA3-crystallin and βB2-crystallin could form heteromers, which have much more stable structures than βA3 homomers. Interestingly, βA3/βB2 heteromers improved their resistance against the thermal stress and the guanidine hydrochloride treatment. However, the pathogenic mutation βA3-G91del destroyed the interaction with βB2, and thereby decreased its structural stability as well as the resistance of thermal or chemical stress. What’s more, the βA3-G91del mutation induced cell apoptosis and escaped from the protection of βB2-crystallin.

Conclusions βA3/βB2 heteromers play an indispensable role in maintaining lens transparency, while the βA3-G91del mutation destabilises heteromers formation with βB2-crystallin, impairs cellular viability and induces cellular apoptosis. These all might contribute to cataract development.

  • experimental – laboratory
  • genetics
  • biochemistry
  • lens and zonules

Data availability statement

All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as online supplemental information.

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