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J Biol Chem. 2002 Oct 25;277(43):40491-8. Epub 2002 Aug 9.

11-cis-retinal reduces constitutive opsin phosphorylation and improves quantum catch in retinoid-deficient mouse rod photoreceptors.

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Department of Ophthalmology, Medical University of South Carolina, 167 Ashley Avenue, Charleston, SC 29425, USA.


Rpe65(-/-) mice produce minimal amounts of 11-cis-retinal, the ligand necessary for the formation of photosensitive visual pigments. Therefore, the apoprotein opsin in these animals has not been exposed to its normal ligand. The Rpe65(-/-) mice contain less than 0.1% of wild type levels of rhodopsin. Mass spectrometric analysis of opsin from Rpe65(-/-) mice revealed unusually high levels of phosphorylation in dark-adapted mice but no other structural alterations. Single flash and flicker electroretinograms (ERGs) from 1-month-old animals showed trace rod function but no cone response. B-wave kinetics of the single-flash ERG are comparable with those of dark-adapted wild type mice containing a full compliment of rhodopsin. Application (intraperitoneal injection) of 11-cis-retinal to Rpe65(-/-) mice increased the rod ERG signal, increased levels of rhodopsin, and decreased opsin phosphorylation. Therefore, exogenous 11-cis-retinal improves photoreceptor function by regenerating rhodopsin and removes constitutive opsin phosphorylation. Our results indicate that opsin, which has not been exposed to 11-cis-retinal, does not generate the activity generally associated with the bleached apoprotein.

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