CRYβA3/A1-crystallin knockout develops nuclear cataract and causes impaired lysosomal cargo clearance and calpain activation

Academic Article


  • βA3/A1-crystallin is an abundant structural protein of the lens that is very critical for lens function. Many different genetic mutations have been shown to associate with different types of cataracts in humans and in animal models. βA3/A1-crystallin has four Greek keymotifs that organize into two crystallin domains. It shown to bind calcium with moderate affinity and has putative calcium-binding site. Other than in the lens, βA3/A1 is also expressed in retinal astrocytes, retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells, and retinal ganglion cells. The function of βA3/A1-crystallin in the retinal cell types is well studied; however, a clear understanding of the function of this protein in the lens has not yet been established. In the current study, we generated the βA3/A1-crystallin knockout (KO) mouse and explored the function of βA3/A1-crystallin in lens development. Our results showed that βA3-KO mice develop congenital nuclear cataract and exhibit persistent fetal vasculature condition. At the cellular level KO lenses show defective lysosomal clearance and accumulation of nuclei, mitochondria, and autophagic cargo in the outer cortical region of the lens. In addition, the calcium level and the expression and activity of calpain-3 were increased in KO lenses. Taken together, these results suggest the lack of βA3-crystallin function in lenses, alters calcium homeostasis which in turn causes lysosomal defects and calpain activation. These defects are responsible for the development of nuclear cataract in KO lenses.
  • Published In

  • PLoS ONE  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Hegde S; Kesterson RA; Srivastava OP
  • Volume

  • 11
  • Issue

  • 2