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Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2001 Aug;42(9):1955-62.

A role for the Tubby-like protein 1 in rhodopsin transport.

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Berman-Gund Laboratory for the Study of Retinal Degenerations, Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Boston, Massachusetts 02114, USA.



To test the hypothesis that a lack of Tubby-like protein 1 (TULP1) function causes aberrant transport of nascent rhodopsin and to examine the functional relationship between the homologous proteins TULP1 and Tubby by studying mice carrying combined mutations.


Subcellular localization of TULP1 and rhodopsin in photoreceptors was determined by immunofluorescence and by postembedding immunoelectron microscopy. Mice carrying different tulp1/tubby allele combinations were examined by histology, electroretinograms (ERGs), and immunofluorescence microscopy.


TULP1 is distributed throughout the photoreceptor cytoplasm but is excluded from the outer segments and the nuclei. In the tulp1-/- mice, ectopic accumulation of rhodopsin occurs at an early age. Both the vesicular profiles in the interphotoreceptor space and the inner segment plasma membranes are immunoreactive for rhodopsin. Mice doubly homozygous for null mutations in the tulp1 and tubby genes initially develop photoreceptors and express a battery of photoreceptor markers at age 14 days. Thereafter their photoreceptors undergo a fulminant degeneration that reaches completion by postnatal day 17. The disease phenotype in the double homozygote is much more severe than either single homozygote. Double heterozygotes are phenotypically normal.


A lack of TULP1 function results in misrouting of nascent rhodopsin. TULP1 may be a component of the cellular machinery that targets nascent rhodopsin to the outer segments. Comparison of disease phenotypes in the single and double mutants suggests that TULP1 and Tubby are not functionally interchangeable in photoreceptors nor do they form an obligate functional complex.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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