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In JoVE (1)

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Articles by Riki Kawaguchi in JoVE

 JoVE Biology

Real-time Analyses of Retinol Transport by the Membrane Receptor of Plasma Retinol Binding Protein

1Department of Physiology, Jules Stein Eye Institute and Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of California, Los Angeles


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Here we describe an optimized technique to produce high-quality vitamin A/RBP complex and two real-time monitoring techniques to study vitamin A transport by STRA6, the RBP receptor.

Other articles by Riki Kawaguchi on PubMed

Regulation of Translational Initiation in Plants

The abundance of cytosolic mRNA does not necessarily correspond to the quantity of polypeptide synthesized in plant cells. The initiation of mRNA translation is regulated at the global and message-specific levels. mRNAs compete for discriminatory initiation factors that couple the 5'-(7m)GpppN-cap and the 3'-poly(A) tail of the RNA message. The resultant circularization of the mRNA promotes the association of the 43S pre-initiation complex that scans the 5'-leader for the initiation codon of the protein coding sequence. The physiological and developmental regulation of these events governs the level of polypeptide synthesis from endogenous and viral transcripts.

Differential MRNA Translation Contributes to Gene Regulation Under Non-stress and Dehydration Stress Conditions in Arabidopsis Thaliana

Translational regulation was evaluated for over 2000 genes by measurement of the proportion of individual mRNA species in polysomal (PS) complexes in leaves of non-stressed and moderately dehydration-stressed Arabidopsis. The amount of each mRNA in polysomes ranged from 23 to 97% in non-stressed leaves and was significantly reduced for a large portion of the genes (71%) in response to dehydration. The effect of dehydration on translational status varied extensively between mRNA species. Sixty per cent of the dehydration-inducible mRNAs with twofold or greater increase in abundance maintained PS levels in response to water-deficit stress, while 40% showed impaired ribosome loading (RL). PS association declined significantly for 92% of the mRNAs that displayed a strong decrease in abundance, indicating a relationship between translation and decreased gene transcription and/or mRNA stability. Interestingly, many mRNAs that encode proteins of similar biological function displayed coordinate translational regulation. Thus, the abundance of PS mRNA may provide a more accurate estimate of gene expression than total cellular mRNA because of extensive differential translational regulation.

MRNA Sequence Features That Contribute to Translational Regulation in Arabidopsis

DNA microarrays were used to evaluate the regulation of the proportion of individual mRNA species in polysomal complexes in leaves of Arabidopsis thaliana under control growth conditions and following a mild dehydration stress (DS). The analysis determined that the percentage of an individual gene transcript in polysomes (ribosome loading) ranged from over 95 to <5%. DS caused a decrease in ribosome loading from 82 to 72%, with maintained polysome association for over 60% of the mRNAs with an increased abundance. To identify sequence features responsible for translational regulation, ribosome loading values and features of full-length mRNA sequences were compared. mRNAs with extreme length or high GU content in the 5'-untranslated regions (5'-UTRs) were generally poorly translated. Under DS, mRNAs with both a high GC content in the 5'-UTR and long open reading frame showed a significant impairment in ribosome loading. Evaluation of initiation A+1UG codon context revealed distinctions in the frequency of adenine in nucleotides -10 to -1 (especially at -4 and -3) in mRNAs with different ribosome loading values. Notably, the mRNA features that contribute to translational regulation could not fully explain the variation in ribosome loading, indicating that additional factors contribute to translational regulation in Arabidopsis.

Genome-wide Analysis of Transcript Abundance and Translation in Arabidopsis Seedlings Subjected to Oxygen Deprivation

DNA microarrays allow comprehensive estimation of total cellular mRNA levels but are also amenable to studies of other mRNA populations, such as mRNAs in translation complexes (polysomes). The aim of this study was to evaluate the role of translational regulation in response to oxygen deprivation (hypoxia).

A Membrane Receptor for Retinol Binding Protein Mediates Cellular Uptake of Vitamin A

Vitamin A has diverse biological functions. It is transported in the blood as a complex with retinol binding protein (RBP), but the molecular mechanism by which vitamin A is absorbed by cells from the vitamin A-RBP complex is not clearly understood. We identified in bovine retinal pigment epithelium cells STRA6, a multitransmembrane domain protein, as a specific membrane receptor for RBP. STRA6 binds to RBP with high affinity and has robust vitamin A uptake activity from the vitamin A-RBP complex. It is widely expressed in embryonic development and in adult organ systems. The RBP receptor represents a major physiological mediator of cellular vitamin A uptake.

Biochemical Analysis of a Common Human Polymorphism Associated with Age-related Macular Degeneration

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of irreversible blindness in developed countries. A large number of human genetic studies have associated a common variant (Y402H) of complement factor H (CFH) with a highly significant increase in AMD risk. CFH is a modular protein with 20 homologous short consensus repeats (SCRs). The Y402H variant is located in SCR7 of both CFH and factor H-like protein 1 (FHL-1), a splice variant of CFH (containing SCR1-7) with unique biochemical properties. Because SCR7 is known to bind to heparin, C-reactive protein (CRP), and M protein from Streptococcus pyogenes, it has been hypothesized that the AMD-associated polymorphism may affect interactions with these CFH ligands. In this study, we tested this hypothesis in the context of full-length CFH (SCR1-20) and FHL-1. We systematically analyzed the interactions of the Y402 and H402 variants of CFH and FHL-1 with heparin, CRP, and several bacterial ligands: M6 protein of Streptococcus pyogenes, PspC of Streptococcus pneumoniea, and BbCRASP-1 of Borrelia burgdorferi. In comparing the Y and H variants of CFH and FHL-1, we found no significant difference in their protein secretion, cofactor activity, or interactions with heparin, BbCRASP-1, or PspC, but a significant difference in binding to CRP and M6 protein. This study reveals the fundamental properties of a common polymorphism of CFH and lays the groundwork for elucidating the role of CFH in AMD pathogenesis.

Mechanisms of Action of the Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia-inducing Teratogen Nitrofen

Congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH) is a developmental anomaly that results in significant mortality and morbidity. The underlying etiology is poorly understood. Insights will arise from an understanding of the mechanisms by which the teratogen nitrofen induces CDH in rodent models. In this study, we use in vitro cell assays in conjunction with whole animal rodent studies to test hypotheses regarding nitrofen's mechanism of action. The first component examined the interaction of nitrofen with various aspects of the retinoid signaling pathway including uptake proteins, binding proteins, receptors, conversion, and degradation enzymes. The second component examined the interactions of nitrofen and vitamins A, C, and E to test the hypothesis that nitrofen was functioning as an antioxidant to interfere with retinoid signaling. Third, we performed a series of experiments examining the interaction of nitrofen and thyroid signaling. Collectively, the data suggest that the primary aspect of retinoid signaling affected by nitrofen is via inhibition of the rate-limiting enzymes controlling retinoic acid synthesis. Retinoid signaling perturbations do not appear to involve oxidative effects of nitrofen. Any substantial roles of nitrofen-induced perturbations of thyroid hormone signaling or receptor function are not supported.

An Essential Ligand-binding Domain in the Membrane Receptor for Retinol-binding Protein Revealed by Large-scale Mutagenesis and a Human Polymorphism

Plasma retinol-binding protein (RBP), the principal carrier of vitamin A in the blood, delivers vitamin A from liver, the site of storage, to distant organs that need vitamin A, such as the eye, brain, placenta, and testis. STRA6 is a high-affinity membrane receptor for RBP and mediates vitamin A uptake in these target organs. STRA6 is a 74-kDa multi-transmembrane domain protein that represents a new class of membrane transport protein. In this study, we used an unbiased strategy by analyzing >900 random mutants of STRA6 to study its structure and function, and we identified an essential RBP-binding domain in STRA6. Mutations in any of the three essential residues in this domain can almost completely abolish binding of STRA6 to RBP and its vitamin A uptake activity from holo-RBP without affecting its cell surface expression. We have also functionally characterized the mutations in human STRA6 that cause severe birth defects as well as several human polymorphisms. All STRA6 mutants associated with severe birth defects have largely abolished vitamin A uptake activity, consistent with the severe clinical phenotypes. In addition, we have identified a human polymorphism that significantly reduces the vitamin A uptake activity of STRA6. Interestingly, the residue affected by this polymorphism is located in the RBP-binding domain we identified, and the polymorphism causes decreased vitamin A uptake by reducing RBP binding. This study identifies an essential functional domain in STRA6 and a human polymorphism in this domain that leads to reduced vitamin A uptake activity.

Mapping the Membrane Topology and Extracellular Ligand Binding Domains of the Retinol Binding Protein Receptor

STRA6 is a multitransmembrane domain protein not homologous to any other proteins with known function. It functions as the high-affinity receptor for plasma retinol binding protein (RBP) and mediates cellular uptake of vitamin A from the vitamin A-RBP complex. Consistent with the diverse roles of vitamin A and the wide tissue expression pattern of STRA6, mutations in STRA6 are associated with severe pathological phenotypes in humans. The structural basis for STRA6's biochemical function is unknown. Although computer programs predict 11 transmembrane domains for STRA6, its topology has never been studied experimentally. Elucidating the transmembrane topology of STRA6 is critical for understanding its structure and function. By inserting an epitope tag into all possible extracellular and intracellular domains of STRA6, we systematically analyzed the accessibility of each tag on the surface of live cells, the accessibility of each tag in permeabilized cells, and the effect of each tag on RBP binding and STRA6-mediated vitamin A uptake from the vitamin A-RBP complex. In addition, we used a new lysine accessibility technique combining cell-surface biotinylation and tandem-affinity purification to study a region of the protein not revealed by the epitope tagging method. These studies not only revealed STRA6's extracellular, transmembrane, and intracellular domains but also implicated extracellular regions of STRA6 in RBP binding.

Techniques to Study Specific Cell-surface Receptor-mediated Cellular Vitamin A Uptake

STRA6 is a multitransmembrane domain protein that was recently identified as the cell-surface receptor for plasma retinol-binding protein (RBP), the vitamin A carrier protein in the blood. STRA6 binds to RBP with high affinity and mediates cellular uptake of vitamin A from RBP. It is not homologous to any known receptors, transporters, and channels, and it represents a new class of membrane transport protein. Consistent with the diverse physiological functions of vitamin A, STRA6 is widely expressed in diverse adult organs and throughout embryonic development. Mutations in human STRA6 that abolish its vitamin A uptake activity cause severe pathological phenotypes in many human organs including the eye, brain, lung, and heart. This chapter describes functional assays for STRA6 in live cells and on cellular membranes. These assays can be employed to study the mechanism of this new membrane transport mechanism and its roles in the physiology and pathology of many organs.

The Membrane Receptor for Plasma Retinol-binding Protein, a New Type of Cell-surface Receptor

Vitamin A is essential for diverse aspects of life ranging from embryogenesis to the proper functioning of most adult organs. Its derivatives (retinoids) have potent biological activities such as regulating cell growth and differentiation. Plasma retinol-binding protein (RBP) is the specific vitamin A carrier protein in the blood that binds to vitamin A with high affinity and delivers it to target organs. A large amount of evidence has accumulated over the past decades supporting the existence of a cell-surface receptor for RBP that mediates cellular vitamin A uptake. Using an unbiased strategy, this specific cell-surface RBP receptor has been identified as STRA6, a multitransmembrane domain protein with previously unknown function. STRA6 is not homologous to any protein of known function and represents a new type of cell-surface receptor. Consistent with the diverse functions of vitamin A, STRA6 is widely expressed in embryonic development and in adult organ systems. Mutations in human STRA6 are associated with severe pathological phenotypes in many organs such as the eye, brain, heart, and lung. STRA6 binds to RBP with high affinity and mediates vitamin A uptake into cells. This review summarizes the history of the RBP receptor research, its expression in the context of known functions of vitamin A in distinct human organs, structure/function analysis of this new type of membrane receptor, pertinent questions regarding its very existence, and its potential implication in treating human diseases.

Receptor-mediated Cellular Uptake Mechanism That Couples to Intracellular Storage

Cells are known to take up molecules through membrane transport mechanisms such as active transport, channels, and facilitated transport. We report here a new membrane transport mechanism that employs neither cellular energy like active transport nor a preexisting electrochemical gradient of the free substrate like channels or facilitated transport. Through this mechanism, cells take up vitamin A bound with high affinity to retinol binding protein (RBP) in the blood. This mechanism is mediated by the RBP receptor STRA6, which defines a new type of cell-surface receptor. STRA6 is essential for the proper functioning of multiple human organs, but the mechanisms that enable and control its cellular vitamin A uptake activity are unknown. We found that STRA6-mediated vitamin A uptake is tightly coupled to specific intracellular retinoid storage proteins, but no single intracellular protein is absolutely required for its transport activity. By developing sensitive real-time monitoring techniques, we found that STRA6 is not only a membrane receptor but also catalyzes vitamin A release from RBP. However, vitamin A released from RBP by STRA6 inhibits further vitamin A release by STRA6 unless specific intracellular retinoid storage proteins relieve this inhibition. This mechanism is responsible for its coupling to intracellular storage proteins. The coupling of uptake to storage provides high specificity in cellular uptake of vitamin A and prevents the excessive accumulation of free vitamin A. We have also identified a robust small-molecule-based technique to specifically stimulate cellular vitamin A uptake. This technique has implications in treating human diseases.

First Implication of STRA6 Mutations in Isolated Anophthalmia, Microphthalmia, and Coloboma: a New Dimension to the STRA6 Phenotype

Microphthalmia, anophthalmia, and coloboma (MAC) are structural congenital eye malformations that cause a significant proportion of childhood visual impairments. Several disease genes have been identified but do not account for all MAC cases, suggesting that additional risk loci exist. We used single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) homozygosity mapping (HM) and targeted next-generation sequencing to identify the causative mutation for autosomal recessive isolated colobomatous microanophthalmia (MCOPCB) in a consanguineous Irish Traveller family. We identified a double-nucleotide polymorphism (g.1157G>A and g.1156G>A; p.G304K) in STRA6 that was homozygous in all of the MCOPCB patients. The STRA6 p.G304K mutation was subsequently detected in additional MCOPCB patients, including one individual with Matthew-Wood syndrome (MWS; MCOPS9). STRA6 encodes a transmembrane receptor involved in vitamin A uptake, a process essential to eye development and growth. We have shown that the G304K mutant STRA6 protein is mislocalized and has severely reduced vitamin A uptake activity. Furthermore, we reproduced the MCOPCB phenotype in a zebrafish disease model by inhibiting retinoic acid (RA) synthesis, suggesting that diminished RA levels account for the eye malformations in STRA6 p.G304K patients. The current study demonstrates that STRA6 mutations can cause isolated eye malformations in addition to the congenital anomalies observed in MWS.

STRA6-catalyzed Vitamin A Influx, Efflux, and Exchange

Vitamin A has diverse biological functions and is essential for human survival. STRA6 is the high-affinity membrane receptor for plasma retinol binding protein (RBP), the principle and specific carrier of vitamin A (retinol) in the blood. It was previously shown that STRA6 couples to lecithin retinol acyltransferase (LRAT) and cellular retinol binding protein I (CRBP-I), but poorly to CRBP-II, for retinol uptake from holo-RBP. STRA6 catalyzes both retinol release from holo-RBP, which is responsible for its retinol uptake activity, and the loading of free retinol into apo-RBP, which can cause retinol efflux. Although STRA6-catalyzed retinol efflux into apo-RBP can theoretically deplete cells of retinoid, it is unclear to what extent this efflux happens and in what context. We show here that STRA6 can couple strongly to both CRBP-I and CRBP-II for retinol efflux to apo-RBP. Strikingly, pure apo-RBP can cause almost complete depletion of retinol taken up by CRBP-I in a STRA6-dependent manner. However, if STRA6 encounters both holo-RBP and apo-RBP (as in blood), holo-RBP blocks STRA6-mediated retinol efflux by competing with apo-RBP's binding to STRA6 and by counteracting retinol efflux with influx. We also found that STRA6 catalyzes efficient retinol exchange between intracellular CRBP-I and extracellular RBP, even in the presence of holo-RBP. STRA6's retinol exchange activity may serve to refresh the intracellular retinoid pool. This exchange is also a previously unknown function of CRBP-I and distinguishes CRBP-I from LRAT.

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