Alpha-crystallin mutations alter lens metabolites in mouse models of human cataracts

Cheryl Frankfater, Stephanie L. Bozeman, Fong Fu Hsu, Usha P. Andley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Cataracts are a major cause of blindness worldwide and commonly occur in individuals over 70 years old. Cataracts can also appear earlier in life due to genetic mutations. The lens proteins, αA- and αB-crystallins, are chaperone proteins that have important roles maintaining protein solubility to prevent cataract formation. Mutations in the CRYAA and CRYAB crystallin genes are associated with autosomal dominant early onset human cataracts. Although studies about the proteomic and genomic changes that occur in cataracts have been reported, metabolomics studies are very limited. Here, we directly investigated cataract metabolism using gas-chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) to analyze the metabolites in adult Cryaa-R49C and Cryab-R120G knock-in mouse lenses. The most abundant metabolites were myo-inositol, L-(+)-lactic acid, cholesterol, phosphate, glycerol phosphate, palmitic and 9-octadecenoic acids, α-D-mannopyranose, and β-D-glucopyranose. Cryaa-R49C knock-in mouse lenses had a significant decrease in the number of sugars and minor sterols, which occurred in concert with an increase in lactic acid. Cholesterol composition was unchanged. In contrast, Cryab-R120G knock-in lenses exhibited increased total amino acid content including valine, alanine, serine, leucine, isoleucine, glycine, and aspartic acid. Minor sterols, including cholest-7-en-3-ol and glycerol phosphate were decreased. These studies indicate that lenses from Cryaa-R49C and Cryab-R120G knock-in mice, which are models for human cataracts, have unique amino acid and metabolite profiles.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0238081
JournalPloS one
Issue number8 August
StatePublished - Aug 2020


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