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Open Access Open Badges Research article

MP20, the second most abundant lens membrane protein and member of the tetraspanin superfamily, joins the list of ligands of galectin-3

Tamir Gonen1, Angus C Grey2, Marc D Jacobs2, Paul J Donaldson2 and Joerg Kistler1*

Author Affiliations

1 School of Biological Sciences, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand

2 Discipline of Physiology, School of Medical and Health Sciences, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand

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BMC Cell Biology 2001, 2:17  doi:10.1186/1471-2121-2-17

Published: 14 August 2001



Although MP20 is the second most highly expressed membrane protein in the lens its function remains an enigma. Putative functions for MP20 have recently been inferred from its assignment to the tetraspanin superfamily of integral membrane proteins. Members of this family have been shown to be involved in cellular proliferation, differentiation, migration, and adhesion. In this study, we show that MP20 associates with galectin-3, a known adhesion modulator.


MP20 and galectin-3 co-localized in selected areas of the lens fiber cell plasma membrane. Individually, these proteins purified with apparent molecular masses of 60 kDa and 22 kDa, respectively. A 104 kDa complex was formed in vitro upon mixing the purified proteins. A 102 kDa complex of MP20 and galectin-3 could also be isolated from detergent-solubilized native fiber cell membranes. Binding between MP20 and galectin-3 was disrupted by lactose suggesting the lectin site was involved in the interaction.


MP20 adds to a growing list of ligands of galectin-3 and appears to be the first representative of the tetraspanin superfamily identified to possess this specificity.