The chemical signal of light onset, a decrease in glutamate release from rod and cone photoreceptors, is processed by a postsynaptic G protein signaling cascade in ON-bipolar cells (BPCs). The metabotropic glutamate receptor mGluR6, along with other cascade elements, is localized synaptically at the BPC dendritic tips. The effector ion channel protein transient receptor potential melastatin-1 (TRPM1), in contrast, is located not only at the dendritic tips but also in BPC bodies and axons. Little is known about the intracellular localization of TRPM1, or its trafficking route to the dendritic tip plasma membrane. Recombinant TRPM1 expressed in mammalian cells colocalized with endoplasmic reticulum (ER) markers, with little or none detected at the plasma membrane. In mouse retina, somatic TRPM1 was similarly intracellular, and not at the plasma membrane. Labeling of ER membranes by expression of a fluorescent marker showed that in BPCs the ER extends into axons and dendrites, but not dendritic tips. In cell bodies, TRPM1 colocalized with the ER, and not with the Golgi apparatus. Fluorescence protease protection (FPP) assays with TRPM1-GFP fusions in heterologous cells revealed that the N and C termini are both accessible to the cytoplasm, consistent with the transmembrane domain topology of related TRP channels. These results indicate that the majority of TRPM1 is present in the ER, from which it can potentially be transported to the dendritic tips as needed for ON light responses. The excess of ER-resident TRPM1 relative to the amount needed at the dendritic tips suggests a potential new function for TRPM1 in the ER.
Keywords: TRPM1; bipolar cell; protein trafficking; secretory pathway.