Immunocytochemical localization of two retinoid-binding proteins in vertebrate retina

J Cell Biol. 1983 Sep;97(3):703-12. doi: 10.1083/jcb.97.3.703.


The recent discovery and characterization of several proteins that purify with endogenous, bound retinoid have given rise to the suggestion that these proteins, which are abundant in retina, perform a role in transport and function of vitamin A. Immunocytochemical techniques were used to localize two retinoid-binding proteins in the retina of four species. Antisera to cellular retinal-binding protein (CRALBP) and an interphotoreceptor retinoid-binding protein (IRBP) were obtained from rabbits immunized with antigens purified from bovine retina. Antibodies from each antiserum reacted with a single component in retinal homogenates and supernatants which corresponded to the molecular weight and charge of the respective antigen (non-SDS and SDS PAGE, electrophoretic transfer to nitrocellulose, immunochemical staining). Immunocytochemistry controls were antibodies from nonimmune serum and antibodies absorbed with purified antigen. Antigens were localized on frozen-sectioned bovine, rat, monkey, and human retina using immunofluorescence and the peroxidase-antiperoxidase technique. Specific staining with anti-IRBP was found in the space that surrounds photoreceptor outer segments, with heaviest labeling in a line corresponding to the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) apical surface. Cone outer segments were positive. Staining with anti-CRALBP was found in two cell types in all species: the RPE and the Müller glial cell. Within the RPE, labeling filled the cytoplasm and was heaviest apically, with negative nuclei. Labeling of Müller cells produced Golgi-like silhouettes with intense staining of all cytoplasmic compartments. Staining of the external limiting membrane was heavy, with labeled microvilli projecting into the interphotoreceptor space. Localization of IRBP to this space bordered by three cell types (RPE, photoreceptor, and Müller) is consistent with its proposed role in transport of retinoids among cells. Localization of CRALBP in RPE corroborates previous biochemical studies; its presence in the Müller cell suggests that this glial cell may play a hitherto unsuspected role in vitamin A metabolism in retina.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Macaca fascicularis
  • Molecular Weight
  • Neuroglia / metabolism
  • Photoreceptor Cells / metabolism
  • Pigment Epithelium of Eye / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Retina / cytology
  • Retina / metabolism*
  • Retinol-Binding Proteins / immunology
  • Retinol-Binding Proteins / metabolism*


  • Retinol-Binding Proteins