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Note: Research in this publication was not performed at Janelia.
BACKGROUND: Although MP20 is the second most highly expressed membrane protein in the lens its function remains an enigma. Putative functions for MP20 have recently been inferred from its assignment to the tetraspanin superfamily of integral membrane proteins. Members of this family have been shown to be involved in cellular proliferation, differentiation, migration, and adhesion. In this study, we show that MP20 associates with galectin-3, a known adhesion modulator.
RESULTS: MP20 and galectin-3 co-localized in selected areas of the lens fiber cell plasma membrane. Individually, these proteins purified with apparent molecular masses of 60 kDa and 22 kDa, respectively. A 104 kDa complex was formed in vitro upon mixing the purified proteins. A 102 kDa complex of MP20 and galectin-3 could also be isolated from detergent-solubilized native fiber cell membranes. Binding between MP20 and galectin-3 was disrupted by lactose suggesting the lectin site was involved in the interaction.
CONCLUSIONS: MP20 adds to a growing list of ligands of galectin-3 and appears to be the first representative of the tetraspanin superfamily identified to possess this specificity.