The amounts of endogenous retinyl palmitate, retinol and retinaldehyde were measured in the neural retina and retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) of predominantly cone (chicken), rod (rat) and more mixed (cat, human) retinae. The ratio of 11-cis to all-trans isomers of retinyl palmitate and retinol in the neural retina and the RPE increases progressively with the increase in diurnality of the species from rat to chicken. The membrane fractions of both chicken and bovine RPE enzymically isomerize all-trans retinol to 11-cis-retinol. Chicken neural retina membranes enzymically form 11-cis-retinol and all-trans-retinyl palmitate from all-trans-retinol. Light and electron microscopy revealed no contamination of chicken neural retina by RPE. Muller cells from chicken retina were isolated, cultured and characterized by immunocytochemical localization of cellular retinaldehyde-binding protein. Cultured chicken Muller cells form all-trans-retinyl palmitate, 11-cis-retinol and 11-cis-retinyl palmitate from all-trans-retinol and release most of the 11-cis-retinol into the medium. The results indicate that chicken neural retina and Muller cells in particular synthesize 11-cis-retinoids from all-trans-retinol.

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