STRA6: role in cellular retinol uptake and efflux
Distribution of vitamin A throughout the body is important to maintain retinoid function in peripheral tissues and to ensure optimal vision. A critical step of this process is the transport of vitamin A across cell membranes. Increasing evidence indicates that this process is mediated by a multidomian membrane protein that is encoded by the stimulated by retinoic acid 6 (STRA6) gene. Biochemical studies revealed that STRA6 is a transmembrane pore which transports vitamin A bidirectionally between extra- and intracellular retinoid binding proteins. Vitamin A accumulation in cells is driven by coupling of transport with vitamin A esterification. Loss-of-function studies in zebrafish and mouse models have unraveled the critical importance of STRA6 for vitamin A homeostasis of peripheral tissues. Impairment in vitamin A transport and uptake homeostasis are associated with diseases including type 2 diabetes and a microphthalmic syndrome known as Matthew Wood Syndrome. This review will discuss the advanced state of knowledge about STRA6’s biochemistry, biology and association with disease.