Transducin translocation in rods is triggered by saturation of the GTPase-activating complex.
Light causes massive translocation of G-protein transducin from the light-sensitive outer segment compartment of the rod photoreceptor cell. Remarkably, significant translocation is observed only when the light intensity exceeds a critical threshold level. We addressed the nature of this threshold using a series of mutant mice and found that the threshold can be shifted to either a lower or higher light intensity, dependent on whether the ability of the GTPase-activating complex to inactivate GTP-bound transducin is decreased or increased. We also demonstrated that the threshold is not dependent on cellular signaling downstream from transducin. Finally, we showed that the extent of transducin alpha subunit translocation is affected by the hydrophobicity of its acyl modification. This implies that interactions with membranes impose a limitation on transducin translocation. Our data suggest that transducin translocation is triggered when the cell exhausts its capacity to activate transducin GTPase, and a portion of transducin remains active for a sufficient time to dissociate from membranes and to escape from the outer segment. Overall, the threshold marks the switch of the rod from the highly light-sensitive mode of operation required under limited lighting conditions to the less-sensitive energy-saving mode beneficial in bright light, when vision is dominated by cones.
Lobanova, ES; Finkelstein, S; Song, H; Tsang, SH; Chen, C-K; Sokolov, M; Skiba, NP; Arshavsky, VY
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