The capacity to generate 11-cis retinal from retinoids arising naturally in the eye was examined in the retina of the bullfrog, Rana catesbeiana. Retinoids, co-suspended with phosphatidylcholine, were applied topically to the photoreceptor surface of the isolated retina after substantial bleaching of the native visual pigment. The increase in photoreceptor sensitivity associated with the formation of rhodopsin, used as an assay for the appearance of 11-cis retinal in the receptors, was analyzed by extracellular measurement of the photoreceptor potential; in separate experiments using the isolated retina or receptor outer segment preparations, the formation of rhodopsin was measured spectrophotometrically. Treatments with the 11-cis isomers of retinal and retinol induced significant increases in both the rhodopsin content and photic sensitivity of previously bleached receptors. The all-trans isomers of retinyl palmitate, retinol, and retinal, as well as the 11-cis isomer of retinyl palmitate, were inactive by both the electrophysiological and spectrophotometric criteria for the generation of rhodopsin. Treatment with any one of the "inactive" retinoids did not abolish the capacity of subsequently applied 11-cis retinal or 11-cis retinol to promote the formation of rhodopsin. The data are discussed in relation to the interconversions of retinoids ("visual cycle of vitamin A") thought to mediate the regeneration of rhodopsin in vivo after extensive bleaching.

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