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J Biol Chem. 2009 Jul 31;284(31):20676-83. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M109.016212. Epub 2009 Jun 4.

The magnitude of the light-induced conformational change in different rhodopsins correlates with their ability to activate G proteins.

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Department of Biology and Geosciences, Graduate School of Science, Osaka City University, Osaka 558-8585, Japan.


Light converts rhodopsin, the prototypical G protein-coupled receptor, into a form capable of activating G proteins. Recent work has shown that the light-activated state of different rhodopsins can possess different molecular properties, especially different abilities to activate G protein. For example, bovine rhodopsin is approximately 20-fold more effective at activating G protein than parapinopsin, a non-visual rhodopsin, although these rhodopsins share relatively high sequence similarity. Here we have investigated possible structural aspects that might underlie this difference. Using a site-directed fluorescence labeling approach, we attached the fluorescent probe bimane to cysteine residues introduced in the cytoplasmic ends of transmembrane helices V and VI in both rhodopsins. The fluorescence spectra of these probes as well as their accessibility to aqueous quenching agents changed dramatically upon photoactivation in bovine rhodopsin but only moderately so in parapinopsin. We also compared the relative movement of helices V and VI upon photoactivation of both rhodopsins by introducing a bimane label and the bimane-quenching residue tryptophan into helices VI and V, respectively. Both receptors showed movement in this region upon activation, although the movement appears much greater in bovine rhodopsin than in parapinopsin. Together, these data suggest that a larger conformational change in helices V and VI of bovine rhodopsin explains why it has greater G protein activation ability than other rhodopsins. The different amplitude of the helix movement may also be responsible for functional diversity of G protein-coupled receptors.

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