Chaperone-like activity of α-crystallin. The effect of NADPH on its interaction with ζ-crystallin

P. V. Rao, J. Horwitz, J. S. Zigler

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50 Scopus citations


α-Crystallin, a major structural protein of the ocular lens of vertebrates, has been characterized recently as a molecular chaperone (Horwitz, J. (1992) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 89, 10449-10453 and Jakob, U., Gaestel, M., Engel, K., and Buchner, J. (1993) J. Biol. Chem. 268, 1517- 1520). While α-crystallins prevent the aggregation of various proteins denatured by heat or chaotropic agents, neither the mode of interaction between target proteins and α-crystallin nor the specific conformational requirements, if any, of the target protein are known. Here, we demonstrate that the ability of α-crystallin to prevent thermally induced aggregation of ζ-crystallin/NADPH:quinone oxidoreductase, an abundant crystallin of guinea pigs and camelids, is strongly dependent on the presence of the obligate cofactor (NADPH) of the target enzyme. ζ-crystallin in the absence of NADPH is readily aggregated at 41 °C, and α-crystallin added at a 1:1 (w/w) ratio offers very little protection. In contrast, in the presence of NADPH ζ- crystallin remains stable to 45 °C and with the addition of α-crystallin (1:1 (w/w)) is protected from aggregation even at 55 °C. Cibacron blue 3GA, a nonmetabolized pyridine nucleotide analog, which has very high binding affinity to ζ-crystallin had similar effects. NADH and NAD+, which are not bound by ζ-crystallin, had no such effect. Complex formation between α- crystallin and non-native ζ-crystallin was demonstrated in the presence of either cibacron blue 3GA or NADPH. Circular dichroism spectroscopy of ζ- crystallin in the presence and absence of NADPH or cibacron blue indicated that nucleotide binding was accompanied by a change in the protein's aromatic amino acid environment but that the secondary structure was unaffected. The data suggest that subtle change in the conformation of denaturing proteins can markedly affect the ability of α-crystallin to protect them from aggregation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13266-13272
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number18
StatePublished - 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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