Among chaperone-like functioning proteins, the lens α-crystallins are of particular interest because they are not renewed, and even minor alterations can hurt their function of maintaining the proper refractive index and avoiding cataract formation in the lens. Several reports have suggested the occurrence of remarkable structural modifications in lens proteins in the presence of endogenous and exogenous sensitizers upon exposure to light. In particular, it has been shown in vitro that hypericin, the active ingredient of Hypericum, can bind to and, in the presence of light, cause the photopolymerization of α-crystallin. On the basis of these results it has also been suggested that a subsequent significant impairment of the protein function can occur. Using absorption and emission spectroscopic techniques, as well as circular dichroism, we have studied the structural modifications of α-crystallin resulting from its interaction with hypericin after irradiation with visible light. To investigate the chaperone-like function of α-crystallin, the heat-induced aggregation kinetics of another lens protein, βLow-crystallin, was monitored by measuring the apparent absorption due to scattering at 360 nm as a function of time, and no apparent damage to its functional role was observed. Spectroscopic results, on the contrary, show a prominent reduction in both tryptophan and hypericin fluorescence emission intensity after light irradiation, suggesting an alteration in the tryptophan microenvironment and a high degree of packing of the chromophore due to photoinduced modification of the molecular framework. Control experiments on α-crystallin structurally modified by light in the presence of hypericin indicated that the protein still retains its ability to chaperone both lens crystallins and insulin.
You have requested a machine translation of selected content from our databases. This functionality is provided solely for your convenience and is in no way intended to replace human translation. Neither BioOne nor the owners and publishers of the content make, and they explicitly disclaim, any express or implied representations or warranties of any kind, including, without limitation, representations and warranties as to the functionality of the translation feature or the accuracy or completeness of the translations.
Translations are not retained in our system. Your use of this feature and the translations is subject to all use restrictions contained in the Terms and Conditions of Use of the BioOne website.
Vol. 77 • No. 5