Retinal cone photoreceptors require phosducin-like protein 1 for G protein complex assembly and signaling

Christopher M Tracy, Alexander V Kolesnikov, Devon R Blake, Ching-Kang Chen, Wolfgang Baehr, Vladimir J Kefalov, Barry M Willardson


G protein β subunits (Gβ) play essential roles in phototransduction as part of G protein βγ (Gβγ) and regulator of G protein signaling 9 (RGS9)-Gβ5 heterodimers. Both are obligate dimers that rely on the cytosolic chaperone CCT and its co-chaperone PhLP1 to form complexes from their nascent polypeptides. The importance of PhLP1 in the assembly process was recently demonstrated in vivo in a retinal rod-specific deletion of the Phlp1 gene. To test whether this is a general mechanism that also applies to other cell types, we disrupted the Phlp1 gene specifically in mouse cones and measured the effects on G protein expression and cone visual signal transduction. In PhLP1-deficient cones, expression of cone transducin (Gt2) and RGS9-Gβ5 subunits was dramatically reduced, resulting in a 27-fold decrease in sensitivity and a 38-fold delay in cone photoresponse recovery. These results demonstrate the essential role of PhLP1 in cone G protein complex formation. Our findings reveal a common mechanism of Gβγ and RGS9-Gβ5 assembly in rods and cones, highlighting the importance of PhLP1 and CCT-mediated Gβ complex formation in G protein signaling.