Dietary carotenoids are precursors for the production of retinoids, which participate in many essential processes, including the formation of the photopigment rhodopsin. Despite the importance of conversion of carotenoids to vitamin A (all-trans-retinol), many questions remain concerning the mechanisms that promote this process, including the uptake of carotenoids. We use the Drosophila visual system as a genetic model to study retinoid formation from β-carotene. In a screen for mutations that affect the biosynthesis of rhodopsin, we identified a class B scavenger receptor, SANTA MARIA. We demonstrate that SANTA MARIA functions upstream of vitamin A formation in neurons and glia, which are outside of the retina. The protein is coexpressed and functionally coupled with the β, β-carotene-15, 15′-monooxygenase, NINAB, which converts β-carotene to all-trans-retinal. Another class B scavenger receptor, NINAD, functions upstream of SANTA MARIA in the uptake of carotenoids, enabling us to propose a pathway involving multiple extraretinal cell types and proteins essential for the formation of rhodopsin.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology