Transducin activation by rhodopsin without a covalent bond to the 11-cis-retinal chromophore

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Science  01 Feb 1991:
Vol. 251, Issue 4993, pp. 558-560
DOI: 10.1126/science.1990431


Rhodopsin and the visual pigments are a distinct group within the family of G-protein-linked receptors in that they have a covalently bound ligand, the 11-cis-retinal chromophore, whereas all of the other receptors bind their agonists through noncovalent interactions. The retinal chromophore in rhodopsin is bound by means of a protonated Schiff base linkage to the epsilon-amino group of Lys-296. Two rhodopsin mutants have been constructed, K296G and K296A, in which the covalent linkage to the chromophore is removed. Both mutants form a pigment with an absorption spectrum close to that of the wild type when reconstituted with the Schiff base of an n-alkylamine and 11-cis-retinal. In addition, the pigment formed from K296G and the n-propylamine Schiff base of 11-cis-retinal was found to activate transducin in a light-dependent manner, with 30 to 40% of the specific activity measured for the wild-type protein. It appears that the covalent bond is not essential for binding of the chromophore or for catalytic activation of transducin.

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