Journal article

Analysis of the Cytoprotective Role of alpha-Crystallins in Cell Survival and Implication of the alpha A-Crystallin C-Terminal Extension Domain in Preventing Bax-Induced Apoptosis

alpha-Crystallins, initially described as the major structural proteins of the lens, belong to the small heat shock protein family. Apart from their function as chaperones, alpha-crystallins are involved in the regulation of intracellular apoptotic signals. alpha A- and alpha B-crystallins have been shown to interfere with the mitochondrial apoptotic pathway triggering Bax pro-apoptotic activity and downstream activation of effector caspases. Differential regulation of alpha-crystallins has been observed in several eye diseases such as age-related macular degeneration and stress-induced and inherited retinal degenerations. Although the function of alpha-crystallins in healthy and diseased retina remains poorly understood, their altered expression in pathological conditions argue in favor of a role in cellular defensive response. In the Rpe65(-/-) mouse model of Leber's congenital amaurosis, we previously observed decreased expression of alpha A- and alpha B-crystallins during disease progression, which was correlated with Bax pro-death activity and photoreceptor apoptosis. In the present study, we demonstrated that alpha-crystallins interacted with pro-apoptotic Bax and displayed cytoprotective action against Bax-triggered apoptosis, as assessed by TUNEL and caspase assays. We further observed in staurosporine-treated photoreceptor-like 661W cells stably overexpressing alpha A- or alpha B-crystallin that Bax-dependent apoptosis and caspase activation were inhibited. Finally, we reported that the C-terminal extension domain of alpha A- crystallin was sufficient to provide protection against Bax-triggered apoptosis. Altogether, these data suggest that alpha-crystallins interfere with Bax-induced apoptosis in several cell types, including the cone-derived 661W cells. They further suggest that alpha A-crystallin-derived peptides might be sufficient to promote cytoprotective action in response to apoptotic cell death.

Related material


The server encountered an error while dealing with your request.

The system administrators have been alerted.

In case of doubt, please contact