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J Biol Chem. 2002 Jul 5;277(27):24376-81. Epub 2002 May 2.

Specific binding of RGS9-Gbeta 5L to protein anchor in photoreceptor membranes greatly enhances its catalytic activity.

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Department of Ophthalmology, Harvard Medical School and the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Boston, Massachusetts 02114, USA.


The complex between the short splice variant of the ninth member of the RGS protein family and the long splice variant of type 5 G protein beta subunit (RGS9-Gbeta5L) plays a critical role in regulating the duration of the light response in vertebrate photoreceptors by activating the GTPase activity of the photoreceptor-specific G protein, transducin. RGS9-Gbeta5L is tightly associated with the membranes of photoreceptor outer segments; however, the nature of this association remains unknown. Here we demonstrate that rod outer segment membranes contain a limited number of sites for high affinity RGS9-Gbeta5L binding, which are highly sensitive to proteolysis. In membranes isolated from bovine rod outer segments, all of these sites are occupied by the endogenous RGS9-Gbeta5L, which prevents the binding of exogenous recombinant RGS9-Gbeta5L to these sites. However, treating membranes with urea or high pH buffers causes either removal or denaturation of the endogenous RGS9-Gbeta5L, allowing for high affinity binding of recombinant RGS9-Gbeta5L to these sites. This binding results in a striking approximately 70-fold increase in the RGS9-Gbeta5L ability to activate transducin GTPase. The DEP (disheveled/EGL-10/pleckstrin) domain of RGS9 plays a crucial role in the RGS9-Gbeta5L membrane attachment, as evident from the analysis of membrane-binding properties of deletion mutants lacking either N- or C-terminal parts of the RGS9 molecule. Our data indicate that specific association of RGS9-Gbeta5L with photoreceptor disc membranes serves not only as a means of targeting it to an appropriate subcellular compartment but also serves as an important determinant of its catalytic activity.

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