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Biochim Biophys Acta. 1976 Feb 23;424(2):235-45.

Isolation and composition of the carotenoid-containing oil droplets from cone photoreceptors.


A procedure for isolating the carotenoid-containing oil droplets of cone retinal photoreceptors of Gallus domesticus is described. The oil droplets, composed almost entirely of neutral lipids and carotenoids, have been separated into ten chromatographic components. Similar separations have been carried out on the total retinal neutral lipids for comparison. The neutral lipids represented 26.1% of the total retinal lipid. Cholesterol, cholesterol ester, mono-, di- and triacylglycerols represented 92.6% of the total neutral lipid. Each of these and other minor neutral lipid components were also present in the lipids extracted from the isolated oil droplets in correspondingly similar concentrations. However, the concentrations of carotenoids were greatly enriched in the neutral lipids of the oil droplets. Each of the major fatty acyl-containing neutral lipids from the chromatography of oil droplet lipids is greatly enriched in polyunsaturated fatty acids when compared with the corresponding component from the total neutral lipid chromatography. In the acylglycerols and free fatty acid fraction from the oil droplets, linoleic and arachidonic acid together represented 52-83% of the total polyunsaturated fatty acids present. The remainder was generally distributed about equally among six other acids. Except for the diacylglycerol fraction, linoleic acid was usually the most enriched acid in a specific oil droplet fraction when compared with any other polyunsaturated fatty acids. A similar pattern of polyunsaturated fatty acid enrichment observed in the fatty acids of the outer segment phospholipids relative to the corresponding total phospholipid fractions of this cone rich retina (Johnston, D. and Hudson, R.A. (1974) Biochim. Biophys. Acta 369, 269) suggest possible metabolic relationships between the oil droplet neutral lipids and the outer segment membrane phospholipids of the cone photoreceptors. A mechanism for the accumulation of the carotenoids in the oil droplets is also discussed.

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