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Mol Neurobiol. 1993 Spring;7(1):61-85.

Interphotoreceptor retinoid-binding protein (IRBP). Molecular biology and physiological role in the visual cycle of rhodopsin.

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Lions of Illinois Eye Research Institute, Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences.


The regeneration of visual pigment in rod photoreceptors of the vertebrate retina requires an exchange of retinoids between the neural retina and the retina pigment epithelium (RPE). It has been hypothesized that interphotoreceptor retinoid-binding protein (IRBP) functions as a two-way carrier of retinoid through the aqueous compartment (interphotoreceptor matrix) that separates the RPE and the photoreceptors. The first part of this review summarizes the cellular and molecular biology of IRBP. Work on the IRBP gene indicates that the protein contains a four-fold repeat structure that may be involved in binding multiple retinoid and fatty acid ligands. These repeats and other aspects of the gene structure indicate that the gene has had an active and complex evolutionary history. IRBP mRNA is detected only in retinal photoreceptors and in the pineal gland; expression is thus restricted to the two photosensitive tissues of vertebrate organisms. In the second part of this review, we consider the results obtained in experiments that have examined the activity of IRBP in the process of visual pigment regeneration. We also consider the results obtained on the bleaching and regeneration of rhodopsin in the acutely detached retina, as well as in experiments testing the ability of IRBP to protect its retinoid ligand from isomerization and oxidation. Taken together, the findings provide evidence that, in vivo, IRBP facilitates both the delivery of all-trans retinol to the RPE and the transfer of 11-cis retinal from the RPE to bleached rod photoreceptors, and thereby directly supports the regeneration of rhodopsin in the visual cycle.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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