The superficial cortical fiber cells of the bovine lens contain membrane-associated proteins of 150,000, 80,000, and 78,000 D that cross-react with antisera prepared against red blood cell (RBC) protein 4.1 (Aster, J. C., G. J. Brewer, S. M. Hanash, and H. Maisel, 1984, Biochem. J., 224:609-616). To further study their relationship to protein 4.1, these proteins were immunoprecipitated from detergent extracts of crude lens membranes with purified polyclonal and monoclonal anti-4.1 antibodies and resolved by SDS PAGE. The electrophoretic mobilities of the lens proteins of 80,000 and 78,000 D were found to be identical to bovine RBC protein 4.1a and protein 4.1b, respectively. One- and two-dimensional peptide mapping revealed that a high degree of structural homology exists among all three of the lens 4.1-like proteins and RBC protein 4.1a and protein 4.1b. Despite the large difference in apparent molecular mass, the 150,000-D lens protein showed only minor peptide map differences. A nitrocellulose filter overlay assay showed that all three of the lens 4.1-like proteins bind to RBC and lens spectrins. We conclude that the bovine lens contains proteins of 80,000 and 78,000 D that are highly similar to protein 4.1 in structure and functional capacity. Additionally, the lens also contains a 4.1 isomorph of 150 kD. Analogous to RBC protein 4.1, these proteins may function in the lens by promoting association of spectrin with actin and by playing a role in the coupling of lens cytoskeleton to plasma membrane.
The epithelium of the mouse lens stains intensely with antisera to glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP). A protein co-migrating with GFAP and immunoreactive with antisera to GFAP can be demonstrated in lens epithelium protein extracts by immunoblots. GFAP has previously been considered unique to cells of neural origin, but this study demonstrates that ectodermally derived cells express GFAP or a highly similar protein.