Retinoid isomerase inhibitors impair but do not block mammalian cone photoreceptor function

Philip D. Kiser, Jianye Zhang, Aditya Sharma, Juan M. Angueyra, Alexander V. Kolesnikov, Mohsen Badiee, Gregory P. Tochtrop, Junzo Kinoshita, Neal S. Peachey, Wei Li, Vladimir J. Kefalov, Krzysztof Palczewski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Visual function in vertebrates critically depends on the continuous regeneration of visual pigments in rod and cone photoreceptors. RPE65 is a well-established retinoid isomerase in the pigment epithelium that regenerates rhodopsin during the rod visual cycle; however, its contribution to the regeneration of cone pigments remains obscure. In this study, we use potent and selective RPE65 inhibitors in rod- and cone-dominant animal models to discern the role of this enzyme in cone-mediated vision. We confirm that retinylamine and emixustat-family compounds selectively inhibit RPE65 over DES1, the putative retinoid isomerase of the intraretinal visual cycle. In vivo and ex vivo electroretinography experiments in Gnat1-/- mice demonstrate that acute administration of RPE65 inhibitors after a bleach suppresses the late, slow phase of cone dark adaptation without affecting the initial rapid portion, which reflects intraretinal visual cycle function. Acute administration of these compounds does not affect the light sensitivity of cone photoreceptors in mice during extended exposure to background light, but does slow all phases of subsequent dark recovery. We also show that cone function is only partially suppressed in cone-dominant ground squirrels and wild-type mice by multiday administration of an RPE65 inhibitor despite profound blockade of RPE65 activity. Complementary experiments in these animal models using the DES1 inhibitor fenretinide show more modest effects on cone recovery. Collectively, these studies demonstrate a role for continuous RPE65 activity in mammalian cone pigment regeneration and provide further evidence for RPE65- independent regeneration mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)571-590
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of General Physiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2018


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