PURPOSE: Mice homozygous for the vitiligo mutation of the microphthalmia (Mitf) gene have a retinal degeneration characterized by slow loss of photoreceptor cells and compromised retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) structure and function. The levels of retinyl esters, which are essential for generation of 11-cis-retinaldehyde for the formation of rhodopsin, were reported previously to be elevated by 6 weeks postnatally in the RPE of vitiligo mutant mice. The purpose of the present study was to determine whether this elevation was due to increased activity of lecithin:retinol acyl transferase (LRAT) the enzyme that converts all-trans-retinol to retinyl esters. METHODS: Retinoids extracted from the RPE and neural retina of mutant and normal mice ages 2, 4, 6 and 8 weeks were analyzed by reversed-phase HPLC. The esterification capacity of the RPE to convert 3H-retinol to 3H-retinyl ester was determined by HPLC in mutant and normal mice at 3 and 9 weeks. RESULTS: Retinyl ester levels were elevated significantly in the mutant RPE as early as postnatal week 2 and were four-fold greater by 8 weeks. The esterification assay indicated no significant differences between mutants and controls at 3 weeks. At 9 weeks, the esterification activity of the mutant RPE was significantly reduced compared to controls rather than elevated. CONCLUSIONS: The data suggest that the accumulation of retinyl esters is not due to increased LRAT activity. Alternative explanations for the retinyl ester accumulation are discussed.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||1|
|Publication status||Published - Jan 1 1997|
ASJC Scopus subject areas