Goldfish cones secrete a two-repeat interphotoreceptor retinoid-binding protein

J Mol Evol. 1995 Nov;41(5):646-56. doi: 10.1007/BF00175823.


Vitamin A and fatty acids are critical to photoreceptor structure, function, and development. The transport of these nutrients between the pigment epithelium and neural retina is mediated by interphotoreceptor retinoid-binding protein (IRBP). IRBP, a 133-kDa (human) glycolipoprotein, is the major protein component of the extracellular matrix separating these two cell layers. In amphibians and mammals, IRBP consists of four homologous repeats of about 300 amino acids which form two retinol and four fatty acid-binding sites. Here we show that IRBP in teleosts is a simpler protein composed of only two repeats. Western blot analysis shows that goldfish IRBP is half the size (70 kDa) of IRBP in higher vertebrates. Metabolic labeling studies employing Brefeldin A taken together with in situ hybridization studies and the presence of a signal peptide show that goldfish IRBP is secreted by the cone photoreceptors. The translated amino acid sequence has a calculated molecular weight of 66.7 kDa. The primary structure consists of only two homologous repeats with a similarity score of 52.5%. The last repeats of human and goldfish IRBPs are 69.1% similar with hydrophobic regions being the most similar. These data suggest that two repeats were lost during the evolution of the ray-finned fish (Actinopterygii), or that the IRBP gene duplicated between the emergence of bony fish (Osteichthyes) and amphibians. Acquisition of a multirepeat structure may reflect evolutionary pressure to efficiently transport higher levels of hydrophobic molecules within a finite space. Quadruplication of an ancestral IRBP gene may have been an important event in the evolution of photo-receptors in higher vertebrates.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Blotting, Northern
  • Blotting, Western
  • DNA, Complementary / genetics
  • Dark Adaptation
  • Eye Proteins / genetics
  • Eye Proteins / metabolism*
  • Gene Library
  • Goldfish / genetics
  • Goldfish / physiology*
  • In Situ Hybridization
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Organ Culture Techniques
  • Repetitive Sequences, Nucleic Acid*
  • Retinal Cone Photoreceptor Cells / cytology
  • Retinal Cone Photoreceptor Cells / metabolism*
  • Retinol-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • Retinol-Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid


  • DNA, Complementary
  • Eye Proteins
  • Retinol-Binding Proteins
  • interstitial retinol-binding protein

Associated data

  • GENBANK/X80802