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Neuron. 2008 Sep 11;59(5):778-89. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2008.07.007.

Ca2+-dependent metarhodopsin inactivation mediated by calmodulin and NINAC myosin III.

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Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience, Cambridge University, Cambridge CB23DY, UK.


Phototransduction in flies is the fastest known G protein-coupled signaling cascade, but how this performance is achieved remains unclear. Here, we investigate the mechanism and role of rhodopsin inactivation. We determined the lifetime of activated rhodopsin (metarhodopsin = M( *)) in whole-cell recordings from Drosophila photoreceptors by measuring the time window within which inactivating M( *) by photoreisomerization to rhodopsin could suppress responses to prior illumination. M( *) was inactivated rapidly (tau approximately 20 ms) under control conditions, but approximately 10-fold more slowly in Ca2+-free solutions. This pronounced Ca2+ dependence of M( *) inactivation was unaffected by mutations affecting phosphorylation of rhodopsin or arrestin but was abolished in mutants of calmodulin (CaM) or the CaM-binding myosin III, NINAC. This suggests a mechanism whereby Ca2+ influx acting via CaM and NINAC accelerates the binding of arrestin to M( *). Our results indicate that this strategy promotes quantum efficiency, temporal resolution, and fidelity of visual signaling.

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