Theses Doctoral

Structural and functional characterization of the retinol-binding protein receptor STRA6

Costabile, Brianna Kay

Vitamin A is an essential nutrient; it is not synthesized by mammals and therefore must be obtained through the diet. During times of fasting or dietary vitamin A insufficiency, retinol, the alcohol form of the vitamin is released from the liver, its main storage tissue, for circulation in complex with retinol-binding protein 4 (RBP) to provide an adequate supply to peripheral tissues. Stimulated by Retinoic Acid 6 (STRA6), the transmembrane RBP receptor, mediates retinol uptake across blood-tissue barriers such as the retinal pigment epithelium of the eye, the placenta and the choroid plexus of the brain. Our understanding as to how this protein functions has been greatly enhanced by the high-resolution 3D structure of zebrafish STRA6 in complex with calmodulin (CaM) solved by single-particle cryogenic-electron microscopy. However, the nature of the interaction of STRA6 with retinol remains unclear.

Here, I present the high-resolution structures of zebrafish and sheep STRA6 reconstituted in nanodisc lipid bilayers in the presence and absence of retinol. The nanodisc reconstitution system has allowed us to study this protein in a close to physiological environment and examine its interaction with the cell membrane and relationship with its ligand, retinol. We also present the structure of sheep STRA6 in complex with human RBP. The structure of the STRA6-RBP complex confirms predictions in the literature as to the nature of the protein-protein interaction needed for retinol transport. Calcium-bound CaM is bound to STRA6 in the RBP-STRA6 structure, consistent with a regulatory role of this calcium binding protein in STRA6-RBP interaction. The analysis of the three states of STRA6 – pre, post and during interaction with retinol – provide unique insights into the mechanism of STRA6-mediated cellular retinol uptake.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Cellular, Molecular and Biomedical Studies
Thesis Advisors
Mancia, Filippo
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
September 8, 2021