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Biochemistry. 2004 Aug 10;43(31):10255-64.

Photoreactions of metarhodopsin III.

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The Biophysics Group, Institut für Molekulare Medizin und Zellforschung, Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg, Hermann-Herder-Strasse 9, D-79104 Freiburg, Germany.


Meta III is an inactive intermediate thermally formed following light activation of the visual pigment rhodopsin. It is produced from the Meta I/Meta II photoproduct equilibrium of rhodopsin by a thermal isomerization of the protonated Schiff base C=N bond of Meta I, and its chromophore configuration is therefore all-trans 15-syn. In contrast to the dark state of rhodopsin, which catalyzes exclusively the cis to trans isomerization of the C11=C12 bond of its 11-cis 15-anti chromophore, Meta III does not acquire this photoreaction specificity. Instead, it allows for light-dependent syn to anti isomerization of the C15=N bond of the protonated Schiff base, yielding Meta II, and for trans to cis isomerizations of C11=C12 and C9=C10 of the retinal polyene, as shown by FTIR spectroscopy. The 11-cis and 9-cis 15-syn isomers produced by the latter two reactions are not stable, decaying on the time scale of few seconds to dark state rhodopsin and isorhodopsin by thermal C15=N isomerization, as indicated by time-resolved FTIR methods. Flash photolysis of Meta III produces therefore Meta II, dark state rhodopsin, and isorhodopsin. Under continuous illumination, the latter two (or its unstable precursors) are converted as well to Meta II by presumably two different mechanisms.

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