The polarity of the retinal pigment epithelium

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

93 Scopus citations


The diversity of epithelia in the body permits a multitude of organ-specific functions. One of the foremost examples of this is the retinal pigment epithelium. Located between the photoreceptors of the retina and their principal blood supply, the choriocapillaris, the retinal pigment epithelium is critical for the survival and function of retinal photoreceptors. To serve this purpose, the retinal pigment epithelium cell has adapted the classic Golgi-to-cell-surface targeting pathways first described in such prototypic epithelial cell models as the Madin-Darby canine kidney cell, to arrive at a unique distribution of membrane and secreted proteins. More recent data suggest that the retinal pigment epithelium also takes advantage of its inherent asymmetry to augment the classical pathways of Golgi-to-cell-surface traffic. As retinal pigment epithelium transplants and gene therapy represent potential cures for retinal degenerative diseases, understanding the basis of the unique polarity properties of retinal pigment epithelium cells will be a critical issue for the development of future therapies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)867-872
Number of pages6
Issue number12
StatePublished - 2001


  • Eye
  • Golgi
  • Photoreceptor
  • RPE
  • Retina
  • Retinal pigment epithelium

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Structural Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Cell Biology


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