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Science 315 (5813): 820-825

Copyright © 2007 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science

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

Riki Kawaguchi,1,2 Jiamei Yu,1 Jane Honda,1 Jane Hu,2 Julian Whitelegge,3,4 Peipei Ping,1,5 Patrick Wiita,1 Dean Bok,2,4,6 Hui Sun1,2,4*

Abstract: 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.

1 Department of Physiology, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, 650 Charles E. Young Drive South, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA.
2 Jules Stein Eye Institute, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, 100 Stein Plaza, 650 Charles E. Young Drive South, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA.
3 Pasarow Mass Spectrometry Laboratory, Semel Institute, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, 760 Westwood Plaza, Los Angeles, CA 90024, USA.
4 Brain Research Institute, UCLA, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA.
5 Department of Medicine, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, 650 Charles E. Young Drive South, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA.
6 Department of Neurobiology, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, 650 Charles E. Young Drive South, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA.

Note added in proof: A recent human genetic study (41) found that mutations in the human STRA6 gene are associated with widespread birth defects in multiple organ systems. This is consistent with the expression of STRA6 and the diverse functions of vitamin A in embryonic development.

* To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: hsun{at}

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