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Exp Eye Res. 1990 Nov;51(5):553-64.

Na+, K(+)-ATPase of the photoreceptor: selective expression of alpha 3 and beta 2 isoforms.

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Department of Pathology and Cellular Biology, University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio 78284.


In photoreceptors, Na+, K(+)-ATPase maintains the ion gradients which power the dark current that sustains the response to light. The enzyme is composed of at least two polypeptides: alpha (the catalytic subunit) and beta. Three different isoforms of the alpha subunit and two isoforms of the beta subunit have been identified in rat. In some tissues, the isoenzymes have been shown to be differentially expressed during development or in response to varying physiological conditions. RNAs prepared from isolated photoreceptors and from whole retina were analyzed on blots that were hybridized with cDNA probes for the alpha 1, alpha 2, alpha 3, beta 1 and beta 2 isoforms. The predominant alpha and beta subunit mRNAs present in the photoreceptor preparation were those encoding the alpha 3 and beta 2 isoforms, accounting for 85% of the total alpha signal and 79% of the total beta signal, respectively. Proportions of each mRNA were similar in retina, but very different from those observed in two control tissues, brain and kidney. To confirm that the alpha-subunit mRNA species detected were translated, membranes prepared from isolated photoreceptors and whole retina were examined by immunoblotting. The antibodies detected a pattern of alpha isoform distribution in these tissues and in kidney and brain controls that agreed remarkably well with the pattern of mRNA expression in the same tissues. Moreover, the alpha 3 isoform was detectable in the inner segment plasma membrane of the photoreceptor by electron microscopic immunocytochemistry. These results indicate that alpha 3, and beta 2 are the predominant isoforms of Na+, K(+)-ATPase expressed in photoreceptors and retina.

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