Mercury-induced dark-state instability and photobleaching alterations of the visual G-protein coupled receptor rhodopsin
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Mercuric compounds were previously shown to affect the visual phototransduction cascade, and this could result in vision impairment. We have analyzed the effect of mercuric chloride on the structure and stability of the dim light vision photoreceptor rhodopsin. For this purpose, we have used both native rhodopsin imrnunopurified from bovine retinas and a recombinant mutant rhodopsin carrying several Cys to Ser substitutions in order to investigate the potential binding site of mercury on the receptor. Our results show that mercuric chloride dramatically reduces the stability of dark-state rhodopsin and alters the molecular features of the photoactived conformation obtained upon illumination by eliciting the formation of an altered photointermediate. The thermal bleaching kinetics of native and mutant rhodopsin is markedly accelerated by mercury in a concentration-dependent manner, and its chromophore regeneration ability is severely reduced without significantly affecting its G-protein activation capacity. Furthermore, fluorescence spectroscopic measurements on the retinal release process, ensuing illumination, suggest that mercury impairs complete retinal release from the receptor binding pocket. Our results provide further support for the capacity of mercury as a hazardous metal ion with reported deleterious effect on vision and provide a molecular explanation for such an effect at the rhodopsin photoreceptor level. We suggest that mercury could alter vision by acting in a specific manner on the molecular components of the retinoid cycle, particularly by modifying the ability of the visual photoreceptor protein rhodopsin to be regenerated and to be normally photoactivated by light.
CitationMorillo, M. [et al.]. Mercury-induced dark-state instability and photobleaching alterations of the visual G-protein coupled receptor rhodopsin. "Chemical research in toxicology", 01 Juliol 2014, vol. 27, núm. 7, p. 1219-1226.