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The lens of the eye loses elasticity with age, while α-crystallin association with the lens membrane increases with age. It is unclear whether there is any correlation between α-crystallin association with the lens membrane and loss in lens elasticity. This research investigated α-crystallin membrane association using atomic force microscopy (AFM) for the first time to study topographical images and mechanical properties (breakthrough force and membrane area compressibility modulus (KA), as measures of elasticity) of the membrane. α-Crystallin extracted from the bovine lens cortex was incubated with a supported lipid membrane (SLM) prepared on a flat mica surface. The AFM images showed the time-dependent interaction of α-crystallin with the SLM. Force spectroscopy revealed the presence of breakthrough events in the force curves obtained in the membrane regions where no α-crystallin was associated, which suggests that the membrane’s elasticity was maintained. The force curves in the α-crystallin submerged region and the close vicinity of the α-crystallin associated region in the membrane showed no breakthrough event within the defined peak force threshold, indicating loss of membrane elasticity. Our results showed that the association of α-crystallin with the membrane deteriorates membrane elasticity, providing new insights into understanding the molecular basis of lens hardening and presbyopia.

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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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