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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. Oct 29, 1996; 93(22): 12278–12282.

Novel Gq alpha isoform is a candidate transducer of rhodopsin signaling in a Drosophila testes-autonomous pacemaker.


DGq is the alpha subunit of the heterotrimeric GTPase (G alpha), which couples rhodopsin to phospholipase C in Drosophila vision. We have uncovered three duplicated exons in dgq by scanning the GenBank data base for unrecognized coding sequences. These alternative exons encode sites involved in GTPase activity and G beta-binding, NorpA (phospholipase C)-binding, and rhodopsin-binding. We examined the in vivo splicing of dgq in adult flies and find that, in all but the male gonads, only two isoforms are expressed. One, dgqA, is the original visual isoform and is expressed in eyes, ocelli, brain, and male gonads. The other, dgqB, has the three novel exons and is widely expressed. Remarkably, all three nonvisual B exons are highly similar (82% identity at the amino acid level) to the Gq alpha family consensus, from Caenorhabditis elegans to human, but all three visual A exons are divergent (61% identity). Intriguingly, we have found a third isoform, dgqC, which is specifically and abundantly expressed in male gonads, and shares the divergent rhodopsin-binding exon of dgqA. We suggest that DGqC is a candidate for the light-signal transducer of a testes-autonomous photosensory clock. This proposal is supported by the finding that rhodopsin 2 and arrestin 1, two photoreceptor-cell-specific genes, are also expressed in male gonads.

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