An interaction between the C-terminus of aquaporin-0 (AQP0) and lens beaded filament protein filensin has been reported previously; however, the region of filensin that is involved in the interaction has not been determined. This study is designed to identify the region of filensin that interacts with AQP0. Chemical crosslinking coupled with mass spectrometry was used to identify the site of interaction. The protein complex was crosslinked with zero-length crosslinker: 1-Ethyl-3-[3-dimethylaminopropyl]carbodiimide Hydrochloride (EDC). The crosslinked membrane fraction was digested by trypsin and crosslinked peptides were identified by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry. A crosslinked peptide between bovine filensin 450-465 (VKGPKEPEPPADLYTK) and bovine AQP0 239-259 (GSRPSESNGQPEVTGEPVELK) was detected. AQP0/filensin crosslinking was not detected in superficial young fiber cells, but increased with fiber cell age in the lens cortex. AQP0/filensin crosslinking and filensin truncation were observed in the same regions of the lens. This crosslinked peptide can be detected in 75 kDa gel band confirming that AQP0/filensin crosslinking can occur between AQP0 and the filensin C-terminal fragment. These results suggest that the AQP0 C-terminus directly interacts with the region of filensin that is adjacent to the major truncation site and the polybasic cluster of residues in the filensin C-terminal tail. This interaction occurs in a specific region of the lens and could only occur between AQP0 and filensin C-terminal fragment in vivo. This interaction supports the dual roles of filensin in the lens; roles that could be important during lens development.
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