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Nat Neurosci. 2011 Jun 5;14(7):874-80. doi: 10.1038/nn.2835.

UNC119 is required for G protein trafficking in sensory neurons.

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Department of Ophthalmology, University of Utah Health Science Center, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA.


UNC119 is widely expressed among vertebrates and other phyla. We found that UNC119 recognized the acylated N terminus of the rod photoreceptor transducin α (Tα) subunit and Caenorhabditis elegans G proteins ODR-3 and GPA-13. The crystal structure of human UNC119 at 1.95-Å resolution revealed an immunoglobulin-like β-sandwich fold. Pulldowns and isothermal titration calorimetry revealed a tight interaction between UNC119 and acylated Gα peptides. The structure of co-crystals of UNC119 with an acylated Tα N-terminal peptide at 2.0 Å revealed that the lipid chain is buried deeply into UNC119's hydrophobic cavity. UNC119 bound Tα-GTP, inhibiting its GTPase activity, thereby providing a stable UNC119-Tα-GTP complex capable of diffusing from the inner segment back to the outer segment after light-induced translocation. UNC119 deletion in both mouse and C. elegans led to G protein mislocalization. Thus, UNC119 is a Gα subunit cofactor essential for G protein trafficking in sensory cilia.

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