Visual cycle in the mammalian eye. Retinoid-binding proteins and the distribution of 11-cis retinoids

Vision Res. 1984;24(11):1581-94. doi: 10.1016/0042-6989(84)90316-x.


This work was designed to provide an insight into the mammalian visual cycle by investigating the possible function of retinoid-binding proteins in this system, and the distribution and type of 11-cis retinoids present in the interphotoreceptor matrix and the cytosols of the retinal pigment epithelium and retina. The total retinol and retinal in the soluble fractions from these three compartments was 8% (3.31 nmol/eye) of the retinyl palmitate and stearate stored in the pigment epithelium membrane fractions (39 nmol/eye). Only small amounts of retinoids were detected in the rod outer segment cytosol. The insoluble fractions also contained retinol, nearly all of which was found in the retina. The retinoids in the soluble fractions appeared to be bound to cellular retinol-binding protein (CRBP), cellular retinal-binding protein (CRA1BP) and interstitial retinol-binding protein (IRBP, a high-Mr glycoprotein). Using immunospecific precipitation, immunoblot and immunocytochemical techniques it was demonstrated that IRBP was localized in the interphotoreceptor matrix and was synthesized and secreted by the retina, a process that did not require the protein to be glycosylated. The amount of retinol bound to IRBP increased if the eyes were exposed to light, when it was estimated that the protein carried up to 30% of its full capacity for all-trans retinol. In addition to all-trans retinol, IRBP carried smaller amounts of 11-cis retinol. The proportion of 11-cis retinol was frequently higher in eyes that had been protected from illumination, suggesting that IRBP plays a role in rhodopsin regeneration during dark-adaptation. Additionally, endogenous 11-cis retinoids in the retina and RPE cytosols were bound to an Mr 33,000 protein tentatively identified as CRA1BP. The 11-cis retinoid in the retina cytosol was mainly in the form of retinol, while in the RPE cytosol it was mainly in the form of retinal. Substantial amounts of 11-cis retinol were also found in the insoluble (membrane) fraction from the retina. It is suggested that in the mammalian retina 11-cis retinol is generated from all-trans retinol (possibly in the Muller cells). Lack of an 11-cis retinol oxidoreductase in the retina prevents it from being utilized for rhodopsin regeneration until it has been transported to the pigment epithelium, where it is converted to 11-cis retinal and returned to the rod outer segments. It is also suggested that IRBP may be implicated in the transport of retinoids between the rod outer segments, the Muller cells and the pigment epithelium.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carrier Proteins / metabolism*
  • Cattle
  • Cytosol / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Pigment Epithelium of Eye / metabolism
  • Retina / metabolism
  • Retinaldehyde / metabolism
  • Retinoids / metabolism*
  • Retinol-Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • Retinol-Binding Proteins, Cellular
  • Vitamin A / metabolism


  • 11-cis-retinal-binding protein
  • Carrier Proteins
  • Retinoids
  • Retinol-Binding Proteins
  • Retinol-Binding Proteins, Cellular
  • Vitamin A
  • Retinaldehyde