Journal of Molecular Evolution

, Volume 32, Issue 3, pp 262–269 | Cite as

Lens protein expression in mammals: Taxon-specificity and the recruitment of crystallins

  • Graeme Wistow
  • Hyong Kim


Vertebrate lenses show remarkably taxon-specific patterns of protein composition, most obviously in the recruitment of enzymes as major crystallins. Phylogenetic relationships are particularly apparent in mammals. Here we describe ν-crystallin, which is probably identical to cytosolic aldehyde dehydrogenase, lens-specifically expressed at high abundance in the elephant shrews, primitive eutherians of the family Macroscelidae, and μ-crystallin, a novel lens protein expressed in some marsupials. We have also observed that enzymes that have been recruited as crystallins in some species are also moderately abundant in the lenses of other species. This hints that the origins of enzyme-crystallins may lie in a pool of enzymes widely expressed in lenses at fairly high levels, perhaps because they have important developmental or functional roles in the tissue.

Key words

Lens Crystallins Macroscelids Marsupials Protein evolution Enzymes 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Graeme Wistow
    • 1
  • Hyong Kim
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratory of Molecular and Developmental Biology, National Eye InstituteNational Institutes of HealthBethesdaUSA

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