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Eur J Biochem. 2002 Sep;269(18):4387-98.

Identification of microsomal rat liver carboxylesterases and their activity with retinyl palmitate.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and of Medicine, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis 46202, USA.


Retinyl esters are a major endogenous storage source of vitamin A in vertebrates and their hydrolysis to retinol is a key step in the regulation of the supply of retinoids to all tissues. Some members of nonspecific carboxylesterase family (EC have been shown to hydrolyze retinyl esters. However, the number of different isoenzymes that are expressed in the liver and their retinyl palmitate hydrolase activity is not known. Six different carboxylesterases were identified and purified from rat liver microsomal extracts. Each isoenzyme was identified by mass spectrometry of its tryptic peptides. In addition to previously characterized rat liver carboxylesterases ES10, ES4, ES3, the protein products for two cloned genes, AB010635 and D50580 (GenBank accession numbers), were also identified. The sixth isoenzyme was a novel carboxylesterase and its complete cDNA was cloned and sequenced (AY034877). Three isoenzymes, ES10, ES4 and ES3, account for more than 95% of rat liver microsomal carboxylesterase activity. They obey Michaelis-Menten kinetics for hydrolysis of retinyl palmitate with Km values of about 1 micro m and specific activities between 3 and 8 protein. D50580 and AY034877 also hydrolyzed retinyl palmitate. Gene-specific oligonucleotide probing of multiple-tissue Northern blot indicates differential expression in various tissues. Multiple genes are highly expressed in liver and small intestine, important tissues for retinoid metabolism. The level of expression of any one of the six different carboxylesterase isoenzymes will regulate the metabolism of retinyl palmitate in specific rat cells and tissues.

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