Amino acid sequence homologies between rabbit, rat, and human serum retinol-binding proteins
The main transporting protein for vitamin A in rabbit serum, the retinol-binding protein (RBP), was isolated and its amino acid sequence determined. Rabbit RBP was found to be highly homologous to human RBP, whose amino acid sequence was elucidated earlier, and to rat RBP. The rat RBP sequence was obtained by combining information deduced from the nucleotide sequences of two overlapping cDNA clones with the NH2-terminal sequence of the isolated protein determined by automated Edman degradation. The identity between the three proteins is approximately 90%. The high degree of homology between RBP molecules from different species is probably explained by the fact that RBP participates in at least three types of molecular interactions: in the binding of prealbumin, in the interaction with retinol, and in the recognition of a specific cell surface receptor. All these interactions should lead to a conservation of RBP structure. The amino acid differences between rabbit, rat, and human RBP are discussed in light of the recent elucidation of the three-dimensional structure of human RBP. Hybridization of a probe isolated from a rat RBP cDNA clone to restriction enzyme-digested genomic DNA from rat and mouse suggests that RBP is encoded by a single gene.