Autoregulation of rhodopsin synthesis in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii.

K. W. Foster, J. Saranak, G. Zarrilli

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A sensitive assay for the induction of carotenoid and rhodopsin synthesis, based on the phototactic response, has been developed in a mutant of the unicellular alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. In the dark, the mutant fails to synthesize carotene and retinal, but it contains the apoprotein opsin. When retinal synthesis is induced by light treatment, the retinal combines with opsin to form rhodopsin, and the cells swim away from a source of light. Since the amount of light required to trigger a phototactic response is inversely proportional to the concentration of rhodopsin, the decrease in amount of light necessary to generate that response can serve as a measure of the amount of retinal synthesized in cells after induction. Using this assay, we found that (i) light induction of retinal depends linearly on light exposure and rhodopsin concentration during the exposure; (ii) the action spectrum of light induction is identical with that for phototaxis for which the receptor pigment is rhodopsin; and (iii) incubation with all-trans-7,8-dihydroretinal before light exposure shifts the action-spectrum peak for light induction 0.41 eV (-71 nm). We conclude that the photopigment for induction of retinal synthesis is a rhodopsin. The time lag required for induction of retinal synthesis and preliminary experiments with transcription or translation inhibitors suggest that alterations in gene expression could be involved in the induction process. Its control could be similar to other processes in which membrane receptors for hormones, neurotransmitters, or growth factors regulate gene expression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6379-6383
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number17
StatePublished - 1988

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