GRIFIN, a novel lens-specific protein related to the galectin family

J Biol Chem. 1998 Oct 30;273(44):28889-96. doi: 10.1074/jbc.273.44.28889.


The vertebrate lens is a relatively simple cellular structure that has evolved to refract light. The ability of the lens to focus light on the retina derives from a number of properties including the expression at high levels of a selection of soluble proteins referred to as the crystallins. In the present study, we have used differential cDNA display techniques to identify a novel, highly abundant and soluble lens protein. Though related to the family of soluble lectins called galectins, it does not bind beta-galactoside sugars and has atypical sequences at normally conserved regions of the carbohydrate-binding domain. Like some galectin family members, it can form a stable dimer. It is expressed only in the lens and is located at the interface between lens fiber cells despite the apparent lack of any membrane-targeting motifs. This protein is designated GRIFIN (galectin-related inter-fiber protein) to reflect its exclusion from the galectin family given the lack of affinity for beta-galactosides. Although the abundance, solubility, and lens-specific expression of GRIFIN would argue that it represents a new crystallin, its location at the fiber cell interface might suggest that its primary function is executed at the membrane.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • DNA, Complementary
  • Dimerization
  • Eye Proteins / chemistry
  • Eye Proteins / genetics*
  • Eye Proteins / metabolism
  • Female
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Galectins
  • Hemagglutinins / chemistry
  • Hemagglutinins / genetics*
  • Hemagglutinins / metabolism
  • Lactose / metabolism
  • Lens, Crystalline / metabolism*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Pregnancy
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid


  • DNA, Complementary
  • Eye Proteins
  • GRIFIN protein, rat
  • Galectins
  • Grifin protein, mouse
  • Hemagglutinins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Lactose

Associated data

  • GENBANK/AF082159
  • GENBANK/AF082160