Heat shock proteins of adult and embryonic human ocular lenses

J Cell Biochem. 2002;84(2):278-84.


We investigated the presence and distribution of heat shock proteins, HSP-70 [Horwitz, J. 1992. Proc Natl Acad Sci 89:10449-10453], HSP-40, HSc-70, HSP-27, and alphabeta-crystallin in different regions of adult and fetal human lenses and in aging human lens epithelial cells. This study was undertaken because heat shock proteins may play an important role in the maintenance of the supramolecular organization of the lens proteins. Human adult and fetal lenses were dissected to separate the epithelium, superficial cortex, intermediate cortex, and nucleus. The water soluble and insoluble protein fractions were separated by SDS-PAGE, and transferred to nitrocellulose paper. Specific antibodies were used to identify the presence of heat shock proteins in distinct regions of the lens. HSP-70 [Horwitz, 1992], HSP-40, and HSc-70 immunoreactivity was mainly detected in the epithelium and superficial cortical fiber cells of the adult human lens. The small heat shock proteins, HSP-27 and alphabeta-crystallin were found in all regions of the lens. Fetal human lenses showed immunoreactivity to all heat shock proteins. An aging study revealed a decrease in heat shock protein levels, except for HSP-27. The presence of HSP-70 [Horwitz, 1992], HSP-40, and HSc-70 in the epithelium and superficial cortical fiber cells imply a regional cell specific function, whereas the decrease of heat shock protein with age could be responsible for the loss of optimal protein organization, and the eventual appearance of age-related cataract.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Electrophoresis, Polyacrylamide Gel
  • Heat-Shock Proteins / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Lens, Crystalline / embryology
  • Lens, Crystalline / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged


  • Heat-Shock Proteins