In vertebrate retina, light responses generated by the rod photoreceptors are transmitted to the second-order neurons, the ON-bipolar cells (ON-BC), and this communication is indispensible for vision in dim light. In ON-BCs, synaptic transmission is initiated by the metabotropic glutamate receptor, mGluR6, that signals via the G-protein Go to control opening of the effector ion channel, TRPM1. A key role in this process belongs to the GTPase Activating Protein (GAP) complex that catalyzes Go inactivation upon light-induced suppression of glutamate release in rod photoreceptors, thereby driving ON-BC depolarization to changes in synaptic input. The GAP complex has a striking molecular complexity. It contains two Regulator of G-protein Signaling (RGS) proteins RGS7 and RGS11 that directly act on Go and two adaptor subunits: RGS Anchor Protein (R9AP) and the orphan receptor, GPR179. Here we examined the organizational principles of the GAP complex in ON-BCs. Biochemical experiments revealed that RGS7 binds to a conserved site in GPR179 and that RGS11 in vivo forms a complex only with R9AP. R9AP and GPR179 are further integrated via direct protein-protein interactions involving their cytoplasmic domains. Elimination of GPR179 prevents postsynaptic accumulation of R9AP. Furthermore, concurrent knock-out of both R9AP and RGS7 does not reconfigure the GAP complex and completely abolishes synaptic transmission, resulting in a novel mouse model of night blindness. Based on these results, we propose a model of hierarchical assembly and function of the GAP complex that supports ON-BCs visual signaling.
Keywords: G-protein signaling; RGS proteins; retina; synaptic transmission; vision.
Copyright © 2016 the authors 0270-6474/16/362915-11$15.00/0.