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Vis Neurosci. 2000 Nov-Dec;17(6):847-54.

Salamander rods and cones contain distinct transducin alpha subunits.

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  • 1Department of Ophthalmology, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston 29403, USA.


The mammalian retina is known to contain two distinct transducins that interact with their respective rod and cone pigments. However, there are no reports of a nonmammalian species having two distinct transducins. In the present study, we report the cloning and cellular localization of two transducin a subunits (G alpha t) from the tiger salamander. Through degenerate polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and subsequent screening of a salamander retina cDNA library, we have identified two forms of G alpha t. When compared to existing sequences in GenBank, the cloned subunits showed high similarity to rod and cone transducins. The salamander G alpha t-1 has 91.2-93.7% amino acid sequence identity to mammalian rod G alpha t subunits and 79.7-80.9% to mammalian cone Gats. The salamander G alpha t-2 has 86.2-87.9% sequence identity to mammalian cone G alpha ts and 78.9-80.9% to mammalian rod G alpha ts at the amino acid level. The G alpha t-1 cDNA encodes 350 amino acids while the G alpha t-2 cDNA encodes 354 residues, which is typical for rod and cone G alpha ts, respectively, and we thus identified the G alpha t- 1 as rod and G alpha t-2 as cone G alpha t. Sequences identified as effector binding sites and GTPase activity regions are highly conserved between the two subunits. Genomic Southern blot analysis showed that rod and cone G alpha t subunits are both encoded by single-copy genes. Northern blot analysis identified retina-specific transcripts of 3.0 kb for rod G alpha t and 2.6 kb for cone G alpha t. Immunohistochemistry in the flat-mounted salamander retina demonstrated that rod G alpha t is localized to rods, predominantly in the outer segments; similarly, cone G alpha t is localized to cone outer segments. The results confirm that the two sequences encode rod and cone transducins and demonstrate that this lower vertebrate contains two distinct transducins that are localized specifically to rod and cone photoreceptors.

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