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Biochemistry. 1975 Nov 18;14(23):5110-7.

Mechanism and specificity of rhodopsin phosphorylation.


Partial separation of protein kinase activity from rhodopsin in isolated bovine retinal photoreceptor outer segments was accomplished by mild ultrasonic treatment followed by ultracentrifugation. Residual kinase activity in the rhodopsin-rich sediment was destroyed by chemical denaturation which did not affect the spectral properties of the rhodopsin. The retinal outer segment kinase was found to be specific for rhodopsin, since in these preparations it alone of several bovine protein kinases was capable of phosphorylating rhodopsin in the light. The phosphorylation reaction apparently requires a specific conformation of the rhodopsin molecule since it is abolished by heat denaturation of rhodopsin, and it is greatly reduced or abolished by treatment of the visual pigment protein with potassium alum after the rhodopsin has been "bleached" by light. When kinase and rhodopsin or opsin fractions were prepared from dark-adapted and bleached outer segments and the resultant fractions were mixed in various combinations of bleached and unbleached preparations, the observed pattern of light-activated phosphorylation was consistent only with the interpretation that a conformational change in the rhodopsin molecule in the light exposes a site on the visual pigment protein to the kinase and ATP. These results rule out the possibility of a direct or indirect (rhodopsin-mediated) light activation of the kinase. Finally, phosphorylation of retinal outer segment protein in monochromatic lights of various wavelengths followed by sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis indicates that both rhodopsin and the higher molecular weight visual pigment protein reported by several laboratories have the same action spectrum for phosphorylation. This result is consistent with the suggestion that the higher molecular weight species is a rhodopsin dimer.

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