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Biochemistry. July 30, 2013; 52 (30): 5084-91.

A conserved aromatic residue regulating photosensitivity in short-wavelength sensitive cone visual pigments.

Kuemmel CM , Sandberg MN , Birge RR , Knox BE .

Visual pigments have a conserved phenylalanine in transmembrane helix 5 located near the β-ionone ring of the retinal chromophore. Site-directed mutants of this residue (F207) in a short-wavelength sensitive visual pigment (VCOP) were studied using UV-visible spectroscopy to investigate its role in photosensitivity and formation of the light-activated state. The side chain is important for pigment formation: VCOP(F207A), VCOP(F207L), VCOP(F207M), and VCOP(F207W) substitutions all bound 11-cis-retinal and formed a stable visual pigment, while VCOP(F207V), VCOP(F207S), VCOP(F207T), and VCOP(F207Y) substitutions do not. The extinction coefficients of all pigments are close, ranging between 35800 and 45600 M⁻¹ cm⁻¹. Remarkably, the mutants exhibit an up to 5-fold reduction in photosensitivity and also abnormal photobleaching behavior. One mutant, VCOP(F207A), forms an isomeric composition of the retinal chromophore after illumination comparable to that of wild-type VCOP yet does not release the all-trans-retinal chromophore. These findings suggest that the conserved F207 residue is important for a normal photoactivation pathway, formation of the active conformation and the exit of all-trans-retinal from the chromophore-binding pocket.

PubMed ID: 23808485
Article link: Biochemistry.
Grant support: EY-11256 NEI NIH HHS , EY-12975 NEI NIH HHS , GM-34548 NIGMS NIH HHS

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