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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2005 Jun 28;102(26):9329-34. Epub 2005 Jun 15.

Highly effective phosphorylation by G protein-coupled receptor kinase 7 of light-activated visual pigment in cones.

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Graduate School of Frontier Biosciences, Osaka University, Suita, Osaka 565-0871, Japan.


Cone photoreceptors show briefer photoresponses than rod photoreceptors. Our previous study showed that visual pigment phosphorylation, a quenching mechanism of light-activated visual pigment, is much more rapid in cones than in rods. Here, we measured the early time course of this rapid phosphorylation with good time resolution and directly compared it with the photoresponse time course in cones. At the time of photoresponse recovery, almost two phosphates were incorporated into a bleached cone pigment molecule, which indicated that the visual pigment phosphorylation coincides with the photoresponse recovery. The rapid phosphorylation in cones is attributed to very high activity of visual pigment kinase [G protein-coupled receptor kinase (GRK) 7] in cones. Because of this high activity, cone pigment is readily phosphorylated at very high bleach levels, which probably explains why cone photoresponses recover quickly even after a very bright light and do not saturate under intense background light. The high GRK7 activity is brought about by high content of a highly potent enzyme. The expression level of GRK7 was 10 times higher than that of rod kinase (GRK1), and the specific activity of a single GRK7 molecule was approximately 10 times higher than that of GRK1. The specific activity of GRK7 is the highest among the GRKs so far known. Our result seems to explain the response characteristics of cone photoreceptors in many aspects, including the nonsaturation of the cone responses during daylight vision.

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