Protein that protects the eye against light damage
Sunday, March 3 2013 | 00 h 00 min | News
A researcher in ophthalmology and neuroscience at the LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans Neuroscience Center of Excellence has discovered a protein that protects retinal photoreceptor cells from degeneration caused by light damage.
The protein, called FATP4 (for fatty acid transport protein) could become the target of new treatments for retinal degenerative disease or age-related macular degeneration, according to the article published in the Journal of Neuroscience.
The researchers were trying to understand what could impede the proper functioning of the RPE65 enzyme, the mutations of which have been linked to various kinds of vision loss, retinal degeneration, and blinding eye diseases. They found that the FATP4 protein was inhibiting RPE65.
Recently, mutations in the human FATP4 gene have been identified in patients with a certain recessive disorder which also features one of the toxic by-products associated with abnormal visual cycles. This by-product, called A2E, accumulates in retinal pigment epithelial cells with age. This means additional studies are needed to determine whether the FATP4 mutations cause age-related disorders and retinal degeneration.