Oxidative stress is one of the most relevant contributors of cataractogenesis. To identify early protein targets of oxidative stress in lens cells, we used a differential proteomics approach to CD5A human epithelial lens cells treated with 500 µM H2O2 for 30 min. This dose of H2O2 was assayed to induce efficiently a block of cellular proliferation and to activate the oxidative stress-early inducible transcription factor EGR-1 (early growth response gene product 1), previously reported as stimulated factor in a model of cataractogenesis [Nakajima, Nakajima, Fukiage, Azuma and Shearer (2002) Exp. Eye Res. 74, 231–236]. We identified nine proteins, which sensitively reacted to H2O2 treatment by using two-dimensional gel electrophoresis and matrix-assisted laserdesorption ionization–time-of-flight-MS. In addition to cytoskeletal proteins (tubulin 1α and vimentin) and enzymes (phosphoglycerate kinase 1, ATP synthase β, enolase α, nucleophosmin and heat-shock cognate 54 kDa protein), which presented quantitative differences in expression profiles, peroxiredoxin and glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate dehydrogenase showed changes in pI as a result of overoxidation. Mass-mapping experiments demonstrated the specific modification of peroxiredoxin I active-site cysteine into cysteic acid, thus providing an explanation for the increase in negative charge measured for this protein. With respect to other global differential approaches based on gene expression analysis, our results allowed us to identify novel molecular targets of oxidative stress in lens cells. These results indicate that a combination of different approaches is required for a complete functional understanding of the biological events triggered by oxidative stress.

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