Intramolecular interactions that induce helical rearrangement upon rhodopsin activation: light-induced structural changes in metarhodopsin IIa probed by cysteine S-H stretching vibrations.

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Rhodopsin undergoes rearrangements of its transmembrane helices after photon absorption to transfer a light signal to the G-protein transducin. To investigate the mechanism by which rhodopsin adopts the transducin-activating conformation, the local environmental changes in the transmembrane region were probed using the cysteine S-H group, whose stretching frequency is well isolated from the other protein vibrational modes. The S-H stretching modes of cysteine residues introduced into Helix III, which contains several key residues for the helical movements, and of native cysteine residues were measured by Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy. This method was applied to metarhodopsin IIa, a precursor of the transducin-activating state in which the intramolecular interactions are likely to produce a state ready for helical movements. No environmental change was observed near the ionic lock between Arg-135 in Helix III and Glu-247 in Helix VI that maintains the inactive conformation. Rather, the cysteine residues that showed environmental changes were located around the chromophore, Ala-164, His-211, and Phe-261. These findings imply that the hydrogen bond between Helix III and Helix V involving Glu-122 and His-211 and the hydrophobic packing between Helix III and Helix VI involving Gly-121, Leu-125, Phe-261, and Trp-265 are altered before the helical rearrangement leading toward the active conformation.


  • The Journal of biological chemistry

    The Journal of biological chemistry 289(20), 13792-13800, 2014-05-16

    American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Inc.


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