Drosophila fatty acid transport protein regulates rhodopsin-1 metabolism and is required for photoreceptor neuron survival

PLoS Genet. 2012;8(7):e1002833. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1002833. Epub 2012 Jul 26.


Tight regulation of the visual response is essential for photoreceptor function and survival. Visual response dysregulation often leads to photoreceptor cell degeneration, but the causes of such cell death are not well understood. In this study, we investigated a fatty acid transport protein (fatp) null mutation that caused adult-onset and progressive photoreceptor cell death. Consistent with fatp having a role in the retina, we showed that fatp is expressed in adult photoreceptors and accessory cells and that its re-expression in photoreceptors rescued photoreceptor viability in fatp mutants. The visual response in young fatp-mutant flies was abnormal with elevated electroretinogram amplitudes associated with high levels of Rhodopsin-1 (Rh1). Reducing Rh1 levels in rh1 mutants or depriving flies of vitamin A rescued photoreceptor cell death in fatp mutant flies. Our results indicate that fatp promotes photoreceptor survival by regulating Rh1 abundance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Death / drug effects
  • Cell Death / genetics
  • Drosophila melanogaster* / genetics
  • Drosophila melanogaster* / metabolism
  • Drosophila melanogaster* / physiology
  • Electroretinography
  • Fatty Acid Transport Proteins* / genetics
  • Fatty Acid Transport Proteins* / metabolism
  • Gene Expression
  • Mutation
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Neurons / drug effects
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Photoreceptor Cells, Invertebrate* / metabolism
  • Photoreceptor Cells, Invertebrate* / physiology
  • Retina / drug effects
  • Retina / metabolism
  • Retina / physiopathology
  • Retinal Degeneration* / genetics
  • Retinal Degeneration* / metabolism
  • Rhodopsin* / genetics
  • Rhodopsin* / metabolism
  • Vitamin D / pharmacology


  • Fatty Acid Transport Proteins
  • Vitamin D
  • Rhodopsin