Congenital cataracts caused by genetic disorders are the primary cause of child blindness across the globe. In this work, we investigated the underlying molecular mechanism of two mutations, L45P and Y46D of γC-crystallin in 2 Chinese families causing nuclear congenital cataracts. Spectroscopic experiments were performed to determine structural differences between the wild-type (WT) and the L45P or Y46D mutant of γC-crystallin, and the structural stabilities of the WT and mutant proteins were measured under environmental stress (ultraviolet irradiation, pH disorders, oxidative stress, or chemical denaturation). The L45P and Y46D mutants had lower protein solubility and more hydrophobic residues exposed, making them prone to aggregation under environmental stress. The dynamic molecular simulation revealed that the L45P and Y46D mutations destabilized γC-crystallin by altering the hydrogen bond network around the Trp residues in the second Greek key motif. In summary, L45P and Y46D mutants of γC-crystallin caused more hydrophobic residues to be solvent-exposed, lowered the solubility of γC-crystallin, and increased aggregation propensity under environmental stress. These might be the pathogenesis of γC-crystallin L45P and Y46D mutants related congenital cataract.
Copyright © 2018. Published by Elsevier B.V.

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