A subclass of crystallins that provides the majority of refractive power and translucency to the lens (LENS, CRYSTALLINE) in VERTEBRATES. Alpha-crystallins also act as molecular chaperones that bind to denatured proteins, keep them in solution and thereby maintain the translucency of the lens. The proteins exist as large oligomers that are formed from ALPHA-CRYSTALLIN A CHAIN and ALPHA-CRYSTALLIN B CHAIN subunits.
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