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Several studies reported that α-crystallin concentrations in the eye lens cytoplasm decrease with a corresponding increase in membrane-bound α-crystallin with age and cataracts. The influence of the lipid and cholesterol composition difference between cortical membrane (CM) and nuclear membrane (NM) on α-crystallin binding to membranes is still unclear. This study uses the electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) spin-labeling method to investigate the α-crystallin binding to bovine CM and NM derived from the total lipids extracted from a single lens. Compared to CMs, NMs have a higher percentage of membrane surface occupied by α-crystallin and binding affinity, correlating with less mobility and more order below and on the surface of NMs. α-Crystallin binding to CM and NM decreases mobility with no significant change in order and hydrophobicity below and on the surface of membranes. Our results suggest that α-crystallin mainly binds on the surface of bovine CM and NM and such surface binding of α-crystallin to membranes in clear and young lenses may play a beneficial role in membrane stability. However, with decreased cholesterol content within the CM, which mimics the decreased cholesterol content in the cataractous lens membrane, α-crystallin binding increases the hydrophobicity below the membrane surface, indicating that α-crystallin binding forms a hydrophobic barrier for the passage of polar molecules, supporting the barrier hypothesis in developing cataracts.

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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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