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Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2012 Mar 9;53(3):1225-33. doi: 10.1167/iovs.11-9350. Print 2012 Mar.

Signaling states of rhodopsin in rod disk membranes lacking transducin βγ-complex.

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  • 1Department of Ophthalmology, Saint Louis University School of Medicine, Saint Louis, MO, USA.



To characterize the possible role of transducin Gtβγ-complex in modulating the signaling properties of photoactivated rhodopsin and its lifetime in rod disc membranes and intact rods.


Rhodopsin photolysis was studied using UV-visible spectroscopy and rapid scanning spectroscopy in the presence of hydroxylamine in highly purified wild-type and Gtγ-deficient mouse rod disc membranes. Complex formation between photoactivated rhodopsin and transducin was measured by extra-metarhodopsin (meta) II assay. Recovery of dark current and flash sensitivity in individual intact wild-type and Gtγ-deficient mouse rods was measured by single-cell suction recordings.


Photoconversion of rhodopsin to meta I/meta II equilibrium proceeds normally after elimination of the Gtβγ-complex. The meta I/meta II ratio, the rate of meta II decay, the reactivity of meta II toward hydroxylamine, and the rate of meta III formation in Gtγ-deficient rod disc membranes were identical with those observed in wild-type samples. Under low-intensity illumination, the amount of extra-meta II in Gtγ-deficient discs was significantly reduced. The initial rate of dark current recovery after 12% rhodopsin bleach was three times faster in Gtγ-deficient rods, whereas the rate of the late current recovery was largely unchanged. Mutant rods also exhibited faster postbleach recovery of flash sensitivity.


Photoactivation and thermal decay of rhodopsin proceed similarly in wild-type and Gtγ-deficient mouse rods, but the complex formation between photoactivated rhodopsin and transducin is severely compromised in the absence of Gtβγ. The resultant lower transduction activation contributes to faster photoresponse recovery after a moderate pigment bleach in Gtγ-deficient rods.

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