Mice Lacking the Systemic Vitamin A Receptor RBPR2 Show Decreased Ocular Retinoids and Loss of Visual Function

Nutrients. 2022 Jun 8;14(12):2371. doi: 10.3390/nu14122371.


The systemic transport of dietary vitamin A/all-trans retinol bound to RBP4 into peripheral tissues for storage is an essential physiological process that continuously provides visual chromophore precursors to the retina under fasting conditions. This mechanism is critical for phototransduction, photoreceptor cell maintenance and survival, and in the support of visual function. While the membrane receptor STRA6 facilitates the blood transport of lipophilic vitamin A into the eye, it is not expressed in most peripheral organs, which are proposed to express a second membrane receptor for the uptake of vitamin A from circulating RBP4. The discovery of a novel vitamin A receptor, RBPR2, which is expressed in the liver and intestine, but not in the eye, alluded to this long-sort non-ocular membrane receptor for systemic RBP4-ROL uptake and transport. We have previously shown in zebrafish that the retinol-binding protein receptor 2 (Rbpr2) plays an important role in the transport of yolk vitamin A to the eye. Mutant rbpr2 zebrafish lines manifested in decreased ocular retinoid concentrations and retinal phenotypes. To investigate a physiological role for the second vitamin A receptor, RBPR2, in mammals and to analyze the metabolic basis of systemic vitamin A transport for retinoid homeostasis, we established a whole-body Rbpr2 knockout mouse (Rbpr2-/-) model. These mice were viable on both vitamin A-sufficient and -deficient diets. Rbpr2-/- mice that were fed a vitamin A-sufficient diet displayed lower ocular retinoid levels, decreased opsins, and manifested in decrease visual function, as measured by electroretinography. Interestingly, when Rbpr2-/- mice were fed a vitamin A-deficient diet, they additionally showed shorter photoreceptor outer segment phenotypes, altogether manifesting in a significant loss of visual function. Thus, under conditions replicating vitamin A sufficiency and deficiency, our analyses revealed that RBPR2-mediated systemic vitamin A transport is a regulated process that is important for vitamin A delivery to the eye when RBP4-bound ROL is the only transport pathway in the fasting condition or under vitamin A deficiency conditions.

Keywords: RBP4; RBPR2; STRA6; all-trans retinol; photoreceptors; retinol-binding protein 4 receptor 2; visual function; vitamin A.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carrier Proteins / metabolism
  • Mammals / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Retina / metabolism
  • Retinoids* / metabolism
  • Retinol-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Vitamin A*
  • Zebrafish


  • Carrier Proteins
  • Retinoids
  • Retinol-Binding Proteins
  • Vitamin A