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α-crystallin is a major protein found in the mammalian eye lens that works as a molecular chaperone by preventing the aggregation of proteins and providing tolerance to stress in the eye lens. These functions of α-crystallin are significant for maintaining lens transparency. However, with age and cataract formation, the concentration of α-crystallin in the eye lens cytoplasm decreases with a corresponding increase in the membrane-bound α-crystallin, accompanied by increased light scattering. The purpose of this review is to summarize previous and recent findings of the role of the: (1) lens membrane components, i.e., the major phospholipids (PLs) and sphingolipids, cholesterol (Chol), cholesterol bilayer domains (CBDs), and the integral membrane proteins aquaporin-0 (AQP0; formally MIP26) and connexins, and (2) α-crystallin mutations and post-translational modifications (PTMs) in the association of α-crystallin to the eye lens’s fiber cell plasma membrane, providing thorough insights into a molecular basis of such an association. Furthermore, this review highlights the current knowledge and need for further studies to understand the fundamental molecular processes involved in the association of α-crystallin to the lens membrane, potentially leading to new avenues for preventing cataract formation and progression.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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