Background light produces a recoverin-dependent modulation of activated-rhodopsin lifetime in mouse rods

Ching-Kang Chen, Michael L Woodruff, Frank S Chen, Desheng Chen, Gordon L Fain


The Ca(2+)-binding protein recoverin is thought to regulate rhodopsin kinase and to modulate the lifetime of the photoexcited state of rhodopsin (Rh*), the visual pigment of vertebrate rods. Recoverin has been postulated to inhibit the kinase in darkness, when Ca(2+) is high, and to be released from the disk membrane in light when Ca(2+) is low, accelerating rhodopsin phosphorylation and shortening the lifetime of Rh*. This proposal has remained controversial, in part because the normally rapid turnoff of Rh* has made Rh* modulation difficult to study in an intact rod. To circumvent this problem, we have made mice that underexpress rhodopsin kinase so that Rh* turnoff is rate limiting for the decay of the rod light response. We show that background light speeds the decay of Rh* turnoff, and that this no longer occurs in mice that have had recoverin knocked out. This is the first demonstration in an intact rod that light accelerates Rh* inactivation and that the Ca(2+)-binding protein recoverin may be required for the light-dependent modulation of Rh* lifetime.