PURPOSE - Plasma membranes of lens fiber cells have high levels of long-chain saturated fatty acids, cholesterol, and sphingolipids-key components of lipid rafts. Thus, lipid rafts are expected to constitute a significant portion of fiber cell membranes and play important roles in lens biology. The purpose of this study was to characterize the lens lipid raft proteome.
METHODS - Quantitative proteomics, both label-free and iTRAQ methods, were used to characterize lens fiber cell lipid raft proteins. Detergent-resistant, lipid raft membrane (DRM) fractions were isolated by sucrose gradient centrifugation. To confirm protein localization to lipid rafts, protein sensitivity to cholesterol removal by methyl-β-cyclodextrin was quantified by iTRAQ analysis.
RESULTS - A total of 506 proteins were identified in raft-like detergent-resistant membranes. Proteins identified support important functions of raft domains in fiber cells, including trafficking, signal transduction, and cytoskeletal organization. In cholesterol-sensitivity studies, 200 proteins were quantified and 71 proteins were strongly affected by cholesterol removal. Lipid raft markers flotillin-1 and flotillin-2 and a significant fraction of AQP0, MP20, and AQP5 were found in the DRM fraction and were highly sensitive to cholesterol removal. Connexins 46 and 50 were more abundant in nonraft fractions, but a small fraction of each was found in the DRM fraction and was strongly affected by cholesterol removal. Quantification of modified AQP0 confirmed that fatty acylation targeted this protein to membrane raft domains.
CONCLUSIONS - These data represent the first comprehensive profile of the lipid raft proteome of lens fiber cells and provide information on membrane protein organization in these cells.