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Science 313 (5786): 530-533

Copyright © 2006 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Multiple Phosphorylation Sites Confer Reproducibility of the Rod's Single-Photon Responses

Thuy Doan,1 Ana Mendez,4 Peter B. Detwiler,2 Jeannie Chen,4* Fred Rieke2,3*

Abstract: Although signals controlled by single molecules are expected to be inherently variable, rod photoreceptors generate reproducible responses to single absorbed photons. We show that this unexpected reproducibility—the consistency of amplitude and duration of rhodopsin activity—varies in a graded and systematic manner with the number but not the identity of phosphorylation sites on rhodopsin's C terminus. These results indicate that each phosphorylation site provides an independent step in rhodopsin deactivation and that collectively these steps tightly control rhodopsin's active lifetime. Other G protein cascades may exploit a similar mechanism to encode accurately the timing and number of receptor activation.

1 Program in Neurobiology and Behavior, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA.
2 Department of Physiology and Biophysics, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA.
3 Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA.
4 Department of Ophthalmology and Cell and Neurobiology Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA 90089, USA.

* To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: rieke{at}u.washington.edu (F.R.); jeannie{at}usc.edu (J.C.)


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