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      Kinetic stability of long-lived human lens γ-crystallins and their isolated double Greek Key domains

      , , , ,

      Biophysical Journal

      Elsevier BV

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          Abstract

          The γ -crystallins of the eye lens nucleus are among the longest-lived proteins in the human body. Synthesized in utero, they must remain folded and soluble throughout adulthood to maintain lens transparency and avoid cataracts. γ D- and γ S-crystallin are two major monomeric crystallins of the human lens. γ D-crystallin is concentrated in the oldest lens fiber cells, the lens nucleus, whereas γ S-crystallin is concentrated in the younger cells of the lens cortex. The kinetic stability parameters of these two-domain proteins and their isolated domains were determined and compared. Kinetic unfolding experiments monitored by fluorescence spectroscopy in varying concentrations of guanidinium chloride were used to extrapolate unfolding rate constants and half-lives of the crystallins in the absence of the denaturant. Consistent with their long lifespans in the lens, extrapolated half-lives for the initial unfolding step were on the timescale of years. Both proteins’ isolated N-terminal domains were less kinetically stable than their respective C-terminal domains at denaturant concentrations predicted to disrupt the domain interface, but at low denaturant concentrations, the relative kinetic stabilities were reversed. Cataract-associated aggregation has been shown to proceed from partially unfolded intermediates in these proteins; their extreme kinetic stability likely evolved to protect the lens from the initiation of aggregation reactions. Our findings indicate that the domain interface is the source of significant kinetic stability. The gene duplication and fusion event that produced the modern two-domain architecture of vertebrate lens crystallins may be the origin of their high kinetic as well as thermodynamic stability.

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          Author and article information

          Journal
          Biophysical Journal
          Biophysical Journal
          Elsevier BV
          00063495
          June 2019
          June 2019
          Article
          10.1016/j.bpj.2019.06.006
          6700672
          31266635
          © 2019

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