* To whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received November 17, 2008; Revision received December 31, 2008
The damaging effect of UV radiation (λ > 260 nm) on bovine α-crystallin in solution was studied by small-angle X-ray scattering, gel permeation chromatography, electrophoresis, absorption and fluorescence spectroscopy, and differential scanning calorimetry. The results obtained show that damage to even a large number of subunits within an α-crystallin oligomer does not cause significant rearrangement of its quaternary structure, aggregation of oligomers, or the loss of their solubility. Due to the high resistance of its quaternary structure, α-crystallin is able to prevent aggregation of destabilized proteins (especially of γ- and β-crystallins) and so to maintain lens transparency throughout the life of an animal (the chaperone-like function of α-crystallin).
KEY WORDS: α-crystallin, quaternary structure, UV radiation, small-angle X-ray scattering