An αA-crystallin gene mutation, Arg12Cys, causing inherited cataract-microcornea exhibits an altered heat-shock response

Li Yun Zhang, Gary Hin Fai Yam, Pancy Oi Sin Tam, R. Yiu Kwong Lai, Dennis Shun Chiu Lam, Chi Pui Pang, Dorothy Shu Ping Fan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Purpose: To investigate the clinical features and molecular basis of inherited cataract-microcornea caused by an αA-crystallin gene (CRYAA) mutation in a Chinese family. Methods: A three-generation Chinese family with members having autosomal dominant cataract and microcornea was recruited. Genomic DNA from peripheral blood or buccal swab samples of five affected and five unaffected members were obtained. Based on 15 genes known to cause autosomal dominant cataract, single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) or microsatellite markers were selected and genotyped for two-point linkage analysis. Direct sequencing was performed to identify the disease-causing mutation. The expression construct coding for recombinant COOH-terminal myc-Histagged wild type or R12C αA-crystallin protein (CRYAA) was expressed in COS-7 cells. Detergent solubility and subcellular distribution of wild type and R12C CRYAA were examined by western blotting and immunofluorescence, respectively. Heat-shock response was monitored by quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) of heat-shock proteins 70 and 90α (HSP70 and HSP90α). Results: The five affected family members showed variable lens opacities and microcornea. Clinical features of cataract were asymmetric in two eyes of some affected subjects. A heterozygous missense substitution, c.34C>T, in CRYAA, which is responsible for the R12C amino acid change, segregated with autosomal dominant cataract (ADCC) in this family. This substitution was absent in 103 unrelated controls. When expressed in COS-7 cells, the R12C mutant CRYAA resembled the wild type protein in its solubility when extracted with 0.5% Triton X-100 and with its cytoplasmic localization. However, mutant cells exhibited an altered heat-shock response, evidenced by the delayed expression of HSP70, when compared to cells expressing wild type CRYAA. Conclusions: The R12C mutation in CRYAA was responsible for a variable type of inherited cataract associated with microcornea in this Chinese family. The altered heat-shock response of mutant cells suggested a change of chaperoning capacity and networking, which could be associated with the pathogenesis of hereditary cataract-microcornea syndrome.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1127-1138
Number of pages12
JournalMolecular vision
StatePublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology


Dive into the research topics of 'An αA-crystallin gene mutation, Arg12Cys, causing inherited cataract-microcornea exhibits an altered heat-shock response'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this