Visual sensation in vertebrates is triggered when light strikes retinal photoreceptor cells causing photoisomerization of the rhodopsin chromophore 11-cis-retinal to all-trans-retinal. The regeneration of pre-illumination conditions of the photoreceptor cells requires formation of 11-cis-retinal in the adjacent retinal pigment epithelium (RPE). Using the intrinsic fluorescence of alltrans-retinyl esters, noninvasive two-photon microscopy revealed previously uncharacterized structures (6.9 ± 1.1 μm in length and 0.8 ± 0.2 μm in diameter) distinct from other cellular organelles, termed the retinyl ester storage particles (RESTs), or retinosomes. These structures form autonomous all-trans-retinyl ester-rich intracellular compartments distinct from other organelles and colocalize with adipose differentiation-related protein. As demonstrated by in vivo experiments using wild-type mice, the RESTs participate in 11-cis-retinal formation. RESTs accumulate in Rpe65-/- mice incapable of carrying out the enzymatic isomerization, and correspondingly, are absent in the eyes of Lrat -/- mice deficient in retinyl ester synthesis. These results indicate that RESTs located close to the RPE plasma membrane are essential components in 11-cis-retinal production.
- Photoreceptor cells
- Retinal pigment epithelial cells
- Retinoid cycle
- Two-photon microscopy