Published online by Cambridge University Press: 09 April 2001
The mammalian retina is known to contain two distinct transducins that interact with their respective rod and cone pigments. However, there are no reports of a nonmammalian species having two distinct transducins. In the present study, we report the cloning and cellular localization of two transducin α subunits (Gαt) from the tiger salamander. Through degenerate polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and subsequent screening of a salamander retina cDNA library, we have identified two forms of Gαt. When compared to existing sequences in GenBank, the cloned subunits showed high similarity to rod and cone transducins. The salamander Gαt-1 has 91.2–93.7% amino acid sequence identity to mammalian rod Gαt subunits and 79.7–80.9% to mammalian cone Gαts. The salamander Gαt-2 has 86.2–87.9% sequence identity to mammalian cone Gαts and 78.9–80.9% to mammalian rod Gαts at the amino acid level. The Gαt-1 cDNA encodes 350 amino acids while the Gαt-2 cDNA encodes 354 residues, which is typical for rod and cone Gαts, respectively, and we thus identified the Gαt-1 as rod and Gαt-2 as cone Gαt. Sequences identified as effector binding sites and GTPase activity regions are highly conserved between the two subunits. Genomic Southern blot analysis showed that rod and cone Gαt subunits are both encoded by single-copy genes. Northern blot analysis identified retina-specific transcripts of 3.0 kb for rod Gαt and 2.6 kb for cone Gαt. Immunohistochemistry in the flat-mounted salamander retina demonstrated that rod Gαt is localized to rods, predominantly in the outer segments; similarly, cone Gαt is localized to cone outer segments. The results confirm that the two sequences encode rod and cone transducins and demonstrate that this lower vertebrate contains two distinct transducins that are localized specifically to rod and cone photoreceptors.
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