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ι-Crystallin and vitamin A2 isomers in lenses of diurnal geckos


The ocular lenses of several genera of strictly diurnal dwarf geckos contain the monomeric ι-crystallin, which is closely related to the cellular retinol-binding protein type I (CRBP I). The contents of ι-crystallin vary between 2 and 12% of the total amount of crystallins depending on species. The endogenous ligand of ι-crystallin of all species investigated so far turns out to be 3,4-didehydroretinol (vitamin A2). No other lenticular retinoids were detected. In lenses of Old World species (Lygodactylus, Pristurus, Quedenfeldtia), this ligand occurs exclusively in the all-trans form. In lenses of species of the neotropical genus Gonatodes, however, it occurs in two isomeric forms: all-trans and 11-cis. ι-Crystallin of Gonatodes is the first CRBP-like protein which naturally binds an 11-cis isomer of vitamin A. All-trans 3,4-didehydroretinol and its ester are present in eye cups of Lygodactylus. In contrast, eye cups of nocturnal geckos without ι-crystallin lack these retinoids. The retinal pigment epithelium is suggested to be the site of conversion of retinol to 3,4-didehydroretinol, which finally serves as ligand of ι-crystallin.

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Accepted: 13 March 1999

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Röll, B., Schwemer, J. ι-Crystallin and vitamin A2 isomers in lenses of diurnal geckos. J Comp Physiol A 185, 51–58 (1999).

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  • Key words Eye lens
  • Lens crystallins
  • 3
  • 4-Didehydroretinol
  • Retinoids
  • Retinoid binding proteins