Hydrotropic function of ATP in the crystalline lens


Greiner JV, Glonek T. Hydrotropic function of ATP in the crystalline lens. Exp Eye Res 2020;190:107862.

Date Published:

2020 Jan


The hypothesis proposed herein is presented to explain the unexpectedly high concentration of ATP and provide evidence to support its hydrotropic function in the crystalline lens determined using P NMR. The lens, historically considered to be a metabolically quiescent organ, has the requisite machinery to synthesize ATP, such that the homeostatic level is maintained at about 3 mM. This relatively high concentration of ATP has been found to be consistent among multiple mammalian species including humans. This millimolar quantity is many times greater than the micromolar amounts required for the other known functions of ATP. The recent postulation that ATP at millimolar concentrations functions as a hydrotrope in various cell/tissue homogenates preventing protein aggregation coupled with observations presented herein, provide support for extending the hypothesis that ATP functions as a hydrotrope not only in homogenates but in an intact functioning organ, the crystalline lens. Concentrations of ATP of this magnitude are hypothesized to be required to maintain protein solubility and effectively prevent protein aggregation. This concept is important considering protein aggregation is the etiology for age-related cataractogenesis. ATP is a common ubiquitous intracellular molecule possessing the requisite hydrotropic properties for maintaining intracellular proteins in a fluid, non-aggregated state. It is proposed that the amphiphilic ATP molecule shields the hydrophobic regions on intralenticular fiber cell protein molecules and provides a hydrophilic interfacial surface comprised of the ATP negatively charged triphosphate side chain. Evidence is presented that this side chain is exposed to and has been reported to organize intracellular interstitial water to form an interfacial rheologically dynamic water layer. Such organization of water is substantiated with the effect of deuterium oxide (heavy water) on ATP line widths of the side chain phosphates measured ex vivo by P NMR. A novel model is presented to propose how this water layer separates adjacent lens fiber cell proteins, keeping them from aggregating. This hypothesis proposes that ATP can prevent protein aggregation in normal intact lenses, and with declining concentrations can be related to the disease process in age-related cataractogenesis, an affliction that affects every older human being.

Last updated on 01/30/2020