Purpose: Arrestins are a superfamily of regulatory proteins that down-regulate activated and phosphorylated G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs). Cone arrestin (CAR) is expressed in cone photoreceptors and pinealocytes and may contribute to the shutoff mechanisms associtated with high acuity color vision. To initiate a study of CAR's function in cone phototransduction, the mouse CAR (mCAR) transcript and protein expression patterns are examined and in vitro binding assays are also presented.
Methods: Tissue distribution of mCAR was determined by Northern and immunoblot analyses and its cellular localization identified by In situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry. The protein expression pattern of mCAR in the postnatal developmental and adult mouse retina was analyzed by immunoblotting in normal C57 and rd/rd mouse retinas. In vitro binding assays with in vitro translated arrestins were used to study the interaction of mCAR and mouse S-antigen (mSAG) with embryonic chicken outer segment (OS) membranes containing both rod and cone opsins.
Results: MCAR has a high level of amino acid sequence identity with orthologous sequences reported for other species except the C-terminal region, which is highly conserved between mouse and rat but divergent in other species. MCAR is expressed exclusively in the retina and the pineal gland, and unique isoforms are expressed during postnatal development of the retina and the pineal gland. The postnatal developmental expression pattern of mCAR and mSAG in the rd/rd mouse retina parallels the generation and degeneration of the cone and rod photoreceptors in these mice. In situ and immunohistochemistry both reveal cone-specific expression of mCAR in the retina. Immunofluorescent staining of retinal sections from dark-adapted or light-exposed mice suggests a light-dependent translocation of mCAR immunoreactivity from the cone inner segments (CIS) and other parts of the cell body to the cone outer segments (COS), similar to but not as dramatic as rod arrestin. In vitro binding assays show a small yet significant increase in binding of the full-length mCAR (mCARFL) to embryonic chicken OS membranes following light activation and phosphorylation of the opsins in the membranes.
Conclusions: MCAR is expressed in retinal cone photoreceptors and the pineal gland. The light-dependent translocation of mCAR immunoreactivity and the increase of mCAR binding to light-activated, phosphorylated embryonic chicken OS membranes, compared to its binding to dark, unphosphorylated membranes, suggest the possibility that mCAR is involved in shutting off the phototransduction cascade in cone photoreceptors as rod arrestin does in rod photoreceptors. However, prominent differences exist between rod arrestin and CAR, suggesting other functions for CAR.