Authors: Honisch C; Donadello V.; Rohanah H.; Peterle D.; De Filippis V.; Arrigoni G.; Gatto C.; Giurgola L.; Siligardi G.; Ruzza P.
ACS Omega. 2020 Mar 3; 5(8): 4293–4301.
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Abstract: The eye lens is mainly composed of the highly ordered water-soluble (WS) proteins named crystallins. The aggregation and insolubilization of these proteins lead to progressive lens opacification until cataract onset. Although this is a well-known disease, the mechanism of eye lens protein aggregation is not well understood; however, one of the recognized causes of proteins modification is related to the exposure to UV light. For this reason, the spectroscopic properties of WS lens proteins and their stability to UV irradiation have been evaluated by different biophysical methods including synchrotron radiation circular dichroism, fluorescence, and circular dichroism spectroscopies. Moreover, dynamic light scattering, gel electrophoresis, transmission electron microscopy, and protein digestion followed by tandem LC–MS/MS analysis were used to study the morphological and structural changes in protein aggregates induced by exposure to UV light. Our results clearly indicated that the exposure to UV radiation modified the protein conformation, inducing a loss of ordered structure and aggregation. Furthermore, we confirmed that these changes were attributable to the generation of reactive oxygen species due to the irradiation of the protein sample. This approach, involving the photodenaturation of proteins, provides a benchmark in high-throughput screening of small molecules suitable to prevent protein denaturation and aggregation.