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J Biol Chem. 1999 Jul 9;274(28):19829-37.

Conformational changes in guanylyl cyclase-activating protein 1 (GCAP1) and its tryptophan mutants as a function of calcium concentration.

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Department of Ophthalmology, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington 98195, USA.


Guanylyl cyclase-activating proteins (GCAPs are 23-kDa Ca2+-binding proteins belonging to the calmodulin superfamily. Ca2+-free GCAPs are responsible for activation of photoreceptor guanylyl cyclase during light adaptation. In this study, we characterized GCAP1 mutants in which three endogenous nonessential Trp residues were replaced by Phe residues, eliminating intrinsic fluorescence. Subsequently, hydrophobic amino acids adjacent to each of the three functional Ca2+-binding loops were replaced by reporter Trp residues. Using fluorescence spectroscopy and biochemical assays, we found that binding of Ca2+ to GCAP1 causes a major conformational change especially in the region around the EF3-hand motif. This transition of GCAP1 from an activator to an inhibitor of GC requires an activation energy Ea = 9.3 kcal/mol. When Tyr99 adjacent to the EF3-hand motif was replaced by Cys, a mutation linked to autosomal dominant cone dystrophy in humans, Cys99 is unable to stabilize the inactive GCAP1-Ca2+ complex. Stopped-flow kinetic measurements indicated that GCAP1 rapidly loses its bound Ca2+ (k-1 = 72 s-1 at 37 degrees C) and was estimated to associate with Ca2+ at a rate (k1 > 2 x 10(8) M-1 s-1) close to the diffusion limit. Thus, GCAP1 displays thermodynamic and kinetic properties that are compatible with its involvement early in the phototransduction response.

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