Main content area

Relocating the Active-Site Lysine in Rhodopsin: 2. Evolutionary Intermediates

Devine, Erin L., Theobald, Douglas L., Oprian, Daniel D.
Biochemistry 2016 v.55 no.34 pp. 4864-4870
G-protein coupled receptors, active sites, cattle, insects, lysine, mutants, rhodopsin, schiff bases
The visual pigment rhodopsin is a G protein-coupled receptor that covalently binds its retinal chromophore via a Schiff base linkage to an active-site Lys residue in the seventh transmembrane helix. Although this residue is strictly conserved among all type II retinylidene proteins, we found previously that the active-site Lys in bovine rhodopsin (Lys296) can be moved to three other locations (G90K, T94K, S186K) while retaining the ability to form a pigment with retinal and to activate transducin in a light-dependent manner [Devine et al. (2013) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 110, 13351−13355]. Because the active-site Lys is not functionally constrained to be in helix seven, it is possible that it could relocate within the protein, most likely via an evolutionary intermediate with two active-site Lys. Therefore, in this study we characterized potential evolutionary intermediates with two Lys in the active site. Four mutant rhodopsins were prepared in which the original Lys296 was left untouched and a second Lys residue was substituted for G90K, T94K, S186K, or F293K. All four constructs covalently bind 11-cis-retinal, form a pigment, and activate transducin in a light-dependent manner. These results demonstrate that rhodopsin can tolerate a second Lys in the retinal binding pocket and suggest that an evolutionary intermediate with two Lys could allow migration of the Schiff base Lys to a position other than the observed, highly conserved location in the seventh TM helix. From sequence-based searches, we identified two groups of natural opsins, insect UV cones and neuropsins, that contain Lys residues at two positions in their active sites and also have intriguing spectral similarities to the mutant rhodopsins studied here.