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J Biol Chem. 1998 Aug 14;273(33):20712-20.

Cellular retinaldehyde-binding protein ligand interactions. Gln-210 and Lys-221 are in the retinoid binding pocket.

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Adirondack Biomedical Research Institute, Lake Placid, New York 12946, USA.


Cellular retinaldehyde-binding protein (CRALBP) carries 11-cis-retinal and/or 11-cis-retinol as endogenous ligands in the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) and Müller cells of the retina and has been linked with autosomal recessive retinitis pigmentosa. Ligand interactions determine the physiological role of CRALBP in the RPE where the protein is thought to function as a substrate carrier for 11-cis-retinol dehydrogenase in the synthesis of 11-cis-retinal for visual pigment regeneration. However, CRALBP is also present in optic nerve and brain where its natural ligand and function are not yet known. We have characterized the interactions of retinoids with native bovine CRALBP, human recombinant CRALBP (rCRALBP) and five mutant rCRALBPs. Efforts to trap and/or identify a Schiff base in the dark, under a variety of reducing, denaturing, and pH conditions were unsuccessful, suggesting the lack of covalent interactions between CRALBP and retinoid. Buried and solvent-exposed lysine residues were identified in bovine CRALBP by reductive methylation of the holoprotein followed by denaturation and reaction with [3H]acetic anhydride. Radioactive lysine residues were identified by Edman degradation and electrospray mass spectrometry following proteolysis and purification of modified peptides. Human rCRALBP mutants K152A, K221A, and K294A were prepared to investigate possible retinoid interactions with buried or partially buried lysines. Two other rCRALBP mutants, I162V and Q210R, were also prepared to identify substitutions altering the retinoid binding properties of a random mutant. The structures of all the mutants were verified by amino acid and mass spectral analyses and retinoid binding properties evaluated by UV-visible and fluorescence spectroscopy. All of the mutants bound 11-cis-retinal essentially like the wild type protein, indicating that the proteins were not grossly misfolded. Three of the mutants bound 9-cis-retinal like the wild type protein; however, Q210R and K221A bound less than stoichiometric amounts of the 9-cis-isomer and exhibited lower affinity for this retinoid relative to wild type rCRALBP. Residues Gln-210 and Lys-221 are located within a region of CRALBP exhibiting sequence homology with the ligand binding cavity of yeast phosphatidylinositol-transfer protein. The data implicate Gln-210 and Lys-221 as components of the CRALBP retinoid binding cavity and are discussed in the context of ligand interactions in structurally or functionally related proteins with known crystallographic structures.

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