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J Biol Chem. 2008 Oct 24;283(43):29135-43. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M804445200. Epub 2008 Aug 22.

A role for GCAP2 in regulating the photoresponse. Guanylyl cyclase activation and rod electrophysiology in GUCA1B knock-out mice.

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


Cyclic GMP serves as the second messenger in visual transduction, linking photon absorption by rhodopsin to the activity of ion channels. Synthesis of cGMP in photoreceptors is supported by a pair of retina-specific guanylyl cyclases, retGC1 and -2. Two neuronal calcium sensors, GCAP1 and GCAP2, confer Ca(2+) sensitivity to guanylyl cyclase activity, but the importance and the contribution of each GCAP is controversial. To explore this issue, the gene GUCA1B, coding for GCAP2, was disrupted in mice, and the capacity for knock-out rods to regulate retGC and generate photoresponses was tested. The knock-out did not compromise rod viability or alter outer segment ultrastructure. Levels of retGC1, retGC2, and GCAP-1 expression did not undergo compensatory changes, but the absence of GCAP2 affected guanylyl cyclase activity in two ways; (a) the maximal rate of cGMP synthesis at low [Ca(2+)] dropped 2-fold and (b) the half-maximal rate of cGMP synthesis was attained at a higher than normal [Ca(2+)]. The addition of an antibody raised against mouse GCAP2 produced similar effects on the guanylyl cyclase activity in wild type retinas. Flash responses of GCAP2 knock-out rods recovered more slowly than normal. Knock-out rods became more sensitive to flashes and to steps of illumination but tended to saturate at lower intensities, as compared with wild type rods. Therefore, GCAP2 regulation of guanylyl cyclase activity quickens the recovery of flash and step responses and adjusts the operating range of rods to higher intensities of ambient illumination.

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