A calcium-relay mechanism in vertebrate phototransduction.
ABSTRACT Calcium-signaling in cells requires a fine-tuned system of calcium-transport proteins involving ion channels, exchangers and ion-pumps, but also calcium-sensor proteins and their targets. Thus, control of physiological responses very often depends on incremental changes of the cytoplasmic calcium concentration, which are sensed by calcium-binding proteins and are further transmitted to specific target proteins. This review will focus on calcium-signaling in vertebrate photoreceptor cells, where recent physiological and biochemical data indicate that a subset of neuronal calcium sensor proteins named guanylate cyclase-activating proteins (GCAPs) operate in a calcium-relay system, namely to make gradual responses to small changes in calcium. We will further integrate this mechanism in an existing computational model of phototransduction showing that it is consistent and compatible with the dynamics that are characteristic for the precise operation of the phototransduction pathways.
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ABSTRACT: In vertebrate rods and cones, photon capture by rhodopsin leads to the destruction of cyclic GMP (cGMP) and the subsequent closure of cyclic nucleotide gated ion channels in the outer segment plasma membrane. Replenishment of cGMP and reopening of the channels limit the growth of the photon response and are requisite for its recovery. In different vertebrate retinas, there may be as many as four types of membrane guanylyl cyclases (GCs) for cGMP synthesis. Ten neuronal Ca(2+) sensor proteins could potentially modulate their activities. The mouse is proving to be an effective model for characterizing the roles of individual components because its relative simplicity can be reduced further by genetic engineering. There are two types of GC activating proteins (GCAPs) and two types of GCs in mouse rods, whereas cones express one type of GCAP and one type of GC. Mutant mouse rods and cones bereft of both GCAPs have large, long lasting photon responses. Thus, GCAPs normally mediate negative feedback tied to the light-induced decline in intracellular Ca(2+) that accelerates GC activity to curtail the growth and duration of the photon response. Rods from other mutant mice that express a single GCAP type reveal how the two GCAPs normally work together as a team. Because of its lower Ca(2+) affinity, GCAP1 is the first responder that senses the initial decrease in Ca(2+) following photon absorption and acts to limit response amplitude. GCAP2, with a higher Ca(2+) affinity, is recruited later during the course of the photon response as Ca(2+) levels continue to decline further. The main role of GCAP2 is to provide for a timely response recovery and it is particularly important after exposure to very bright light. The multiplicity of GC isozymes and GCAP homologs in the retinas of other vertebrates confers greater flexibility in shaping the photon responses in order to tune visual sensitivity, dynamic range and frequency response.Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience 01/2014; 7:45.
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ABSTRACT: The neuronal calcium sensor proteins GCAPs (guanylate cyclase activating proteins) switch between Ca2+-free and Ca2+-bound conformational states and confer calcium sensitivity to guanylate cyclase at retinal photoreceptor cells. They play a fundamental role in light adaptation by coupling the rate of cGMP synthesis to the intracellular concentration of calcium. Mutations in GCAPs lead to blindness. The importance of functional EF-hands in GCAP1 for photoreceptor cell integrity has been well established. Mutations in GCAP1 that diminish its Ca2+ binding affinity lead to cell damage by causing unabated cGMP synthesis and accumulation of toxic levels of free cGMP and Ca2+. We here investigate the relevance of GCAP2 functional EF-hands for photoreceptor cell integrity. By characterizing transgenic mice expressing a mutant form of GCAP2 with all EF-hands inactivated (EF-GCAP2), we show that GCAP2 locked in its Ca2+-free conformation leads to a rapid retinal degeneration that is not due to unabated cGMP synthesis. We unveil that when locked in its Ca2+-free conformation in vivo, GCAP2 is phosphorylated at Ser201 and results in phospho-dependent binding to the chaperone 14-3-3 and retention at the inner segment and proximal cell compartments. Accumulation of phosphorylated EF-GCAP2 at the inner segment results in severe toxicity. We show that in wildtype mice under physiological conditions, 50% of GCAP2 is phosphorylated correlating with the 50% of the protein being retained at the inner segment. Raising mice under constant light exposure, however, drastically increases the retention of GCAP2 in its Ca2+-free form at the inner segment. This study identifies a new mechanism governing GCAP2 subcellular distribution in vivo, closely related to disease. It also identifies a pathway by which a sustained reduction in intracellular free Ca2+ could result in photoreceptor damage, relevant for light damage and for those genetic disorders resulting in "equivalent-light" scenarios.PLoS Genetics 07/2014; 10(7):e1004480. · 8.52 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Vertebrate visual phototransduction is perhaps the most well-studied G-protein signaling pathway. A wealth of available biochemical and electrophysiological data has resulted in a rich history of mathematical modeling of the system. However, while the most comprehensive models have relied upon amphibian biochemical and electrophysiological data, modern research typically employs mammalian species, particularly mice, which exhibit significantly faster signaling dynamics. In this work, we present an adaptation of a previously published, comprehensive model of amphibian phototransduction that can produce quantitatively accurate simulations of the murine photoresponse. We demonstrate the ability of the model to predict responses to a wide range of stimuli and under a variety of mutant conditions. Finally, we employ the model to highlight a likely unknown mechanism related to the interaction between rhodopsin and rhodopsin kinase.Molecular BioSystems 03/2014; · 3.35 Impact Factor