Multiple Phosphorylation Sites Confer Reproducibility of the Rod's Single-Photon Responses

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Science  28 Jul 2006:
Vol. 313, Issue 5786, pp. 530-533
DOI: 10.1126/science.1126612

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Although signals controlled by single molecules are expected to be inherently variable, rod photoreceptors generate reproducible responses to single absorbed photons. We show that this unexpected reproducibility—the consistency of amplitude and duration of rhodopsin activity—varies in a graded and systematic manner with the number but not the identity of phosphorylation sites on rhodopsin's C terminus. These results indicate that each phosphorylation site provides an independent step in rhodopsin deactivation and that collectively these steps tightly control rhodopsin's active lifetime. Other G protein cascades may exploit a similar mechanism to encode accurately the timing and number of receptor activation.

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