Photoreceptors are polarized neurons, with specific subcellular compartmentalization and unique requirements for protein expression and trafficking. Each photoreceptor contains an outer segment (OS) where vision begins, an inner segment (IS) where protein synthesis occurs and a synaptic terminal for signal transmission to second-order neurons. The OS is a large, modified primary cilium attached to the IS by a slender connecting cilium (CC), the equivalent of the transition zone (TZ). Daily renewal of ~10% of the OS requires massive protein biosynthesis in the IS with reliable transport and targeting pathways. Transport of lipidated ('sticky') proteins depends on solubilization factors, phosphodiesterase δ (PDEδ) and uncoordinated protein-119 (UNC119), and the cargo dispensation factor (CDF), Arf-like protein 3-guanosine triphosphate (ARL3-GTP). As PDE6 and transducin still reside prominently in the OS of PDEδ and UNC119 germline knockout mice, respectively, we propose the existence of an alternate trafficking pathway, whereby lipidated proteins migrate in rhodopsin-containing vesicles of the secretory pathway.
Keywords: Arf-like protein 3 (ARL3); PDE6D (PDEδ); lipidated proteins; mouse rod and cone photoreceptors; photoreceptor connecting cilium (transition zone); rhodopsin; uncoordinated protein (UNC119).