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J Neurosci. 2001 Dec 1;21(23):9175-84.

Species-specific differences in expression of G-protein-coupled receptor kinase (GRK) 7 and GRK1 in mammalian cone photoreceptor cells: implications for cone cell phototransduction.

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Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27599-7090, USA.


Desensitization plays an important role in the rapid termination of G-protein signaling pathways. This process, which involves phosphorylation by a G-protein-coupled receptor kinase (GRK) followed by arrestin binding, has been studied extensively in the rod photoreceptor cell of the mammalian retina. In contrast, less is known regarding desensitization in cone photoreceptor cells, which occurs more rapidly than in rod cells. Recently, our laboratory has cloned a novel GRK family member, GRK7, from the retina of a cone-dominant mammal, the 13-lined ground squirrel. Here we report the cloning of GRK7 from rod-dominant pig and human retinas, suggesting that this kinase plays a role in human visual signaling. Because GRK1 (rhodopsin kinase), the GRK that mediates rhodopsin desensitization in the rod cell, is reportedly expressed in both rods and cones, a detailed comparison of the localization of the two kinases is a necessary step toward determining their potential roles in cone visual signaling. Immunocytochemical analysis using antibodies selective for these two GRKs unexpectedly demonstrated species-specific differences in GRK7 and GRK1 expression in cones. In pigs and dogs, cones express only GRK7, whereas in mice and rats, we detected only GRK1 in cones. These results suggest that either GRK7 or GRK1 may participate in cone opsin desensitization, depending on the expression pattern of the kinases in different species. In contrast, GRK7 and GRK1 are coexpressed in monkey and human cones, suggesting that coordinate regulation of desensitization by both kinases may occur in primates.

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