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Biochemistry. 2007 Jul 24;46(29):8669-79. Epub 2007 Jun 30.

Interphotoreceptor retinoid-binding protein is the physiologically relevant carrier that removes retinol from rod photoreceptor outer segments.

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  • 1Department of Ophthalmology, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, South Carolina, USA.


Light detection by vertebrate rod photoreceptor outer segments results in the destruction of the visual pigment, rhodopsin, as its retinyl moiety is photoisomerized from 11-cis to all-trans. The regeneration of rhodopsin is necessary for vision and begins with the release of the all-trans retinal and its reduction to all-trans retinol. Retinol is then transported out of the rod outer segment for further processing. We used fluorescence imaging to monitor retinol fluorescence and quantify the kinetics of its formation and clearance after rhodopsin bleaching in the outer segments of living isolated frog (Rana pipiens) rod photoreceptors. We independently measured the release of all-trans retinal from bleached rhodopsin in frog rod outer segment membranes and the rate of all-trans retinol removal by the lipophilic carriers interphotoreceptor retinoid binding protein (IRBP) and serum albumin. We find that the kinetics of all-trans retinol formation in frog rod outer segments after rhodopsin bleaching are to a good first approximation determined by the kinetics of all-trans retinal release from the bleached pigment. For the physiological concentrations of carriers, the rate of retinol removal from the outer segment is determined by IRBP concentration, whereas the effect of serum albumin is negligible. The results indicate the presence of a specific interaction between IRBP and the rod outer segment, probably mediated by a receptor. The effect of different concentrations of IRBP on the rate of retinol removal shows no cooperativity and has an EC50 of 40 micromol/L.

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