James Lee L&S Sciences
Differential response of wild-type and mutant small heat shock protein alpha-crystallin to chemical and thermal stresses
Cataracts, caused by the aggregation of proteins inside lens cells, are the leading cause of blindness in the world. Alpha-crystallins, members of the small heat shock protein family, are essential for eye lens transparency in humans and mice. Using mouse models with different mutations in aA-crystallin, I am investigating the mechanisms for establishing and maintaining lifelong lens transparency. This summer I will be challenging these cells with a compound called Withaferin A, a chemical that causes changes in cell architecture. By observing the response of intracellular proteins to this compound, I will be able to explore some of the causes of protein aggregation and malfunction inside lens cells. If successful, my research may provide clues for preventing or treating cataract formation.