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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Characterization of the primary photointermediates of Drosophila rhodopsin.

Invertebrate opsins are unique among the visual pigments because the light-activated conformation, metarhodopsin, is stable following exposure to light in vivo. Recovery of the light-activated pigment to the dark conformation (or resting state) occurs either thermally or photochemically. There is no evidence to suggest that the chromophore becomes detached from the protein during any stage in the formation or recovery processes. Biochemical and structural studies of invertebrate opsins have been limited by the inability to express and purify rhodopsins for structure-function studies. In this study, we used Drosophila to produce an epitope-tagged opsin, Rh1- 1D4, in quantities suitable for spectroscopic and photochemical characterization. When expressed in Drosophila, Rh1- 1D4 is localized to the rhabdomere membranes, has the same spectral properties in vivo as wild-type Rh1, and activates the phototransduction cascade in a normal manner. Purified Rh1- 1D4 visual pigment has an absorption maximum of the dark-adapted state of 474 nm, while the metarhodopsin absorption maximum is 572 nm. However, the metarhodopsin state is not stable as purified in dodecyl maltoside but decays with kinetics that require a double-exponential fit having lifetimes of 280 and 2700 s. We investigated the primary properties of the pigment at low temperature. At 70 K, the pigment undergoes a temperature-induced red shift to 486 nm. Upon illumination with 435 nm light, a photostationary state mixture is formed consisting of bathorhodopsin (lambda(max) = 545 nm) and isorhodopsin (lambda(max) = 462 nm). We also compared the spectroscopic and photochemical properties of this pigment with other vertebrate pigments. We conclude that the binding site of Drosophila rhodopsin is similar to that of bovine rhodopsin and is characterized by a protonated Schiff base chromophore stabilized via a single negatively charged counterion.[1]


  1. Characterization of the primary photointermediates of Drosophila rhodopsin. Vought, B.W., Salcedo, E., Chadwell, L.V., Britt, S.G., Birge, R.R., Knox, B.E. Biochemistry (2000) [Pubmed]
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