Published online by Cambridge University Press: 09 April 2001
In retinal rods, light exposure decreases the total outer segment content of both cGMP and cAMP by about 50%. The functional role of the light-evoked change in cAMP is not known. It is postulated to trigger changes in the phosphorylation state of phosducin, a phosphoprotein that is phosphorylated in the dark by cAMP-dependent protein kinase (PKA) and dephosphorylated by basal phosphatase activity when PKA is inhibited by the light-evoked drop in cAMP. In biochemical studies, dephosphorylated phosducin binds to free βγ dimer of transducin (Tβγ) and prevents the regeneration of heterotrimeric transducin by blocking the re-association of the βγ and α subunits. Phosducin's interaction with Tβγ is blocked when it is phosphorylated on a single residue by PKA. To evaluate the effect of the light-evoked fall in cAMP, functionally intact isolated lizard rod outer segments were dialyzed in whole-cell voltage clamp with a standard internal solution and electrical light responses were recorded with and without adding cAMP to the dialysis solution. Since the total outer segment content of cAMP in darkness is ∼5 μM, internal dialysis with solution containing a much higher concentration (100 μM) of cAMP (or 8-bromo-cAMP) will overcome the effects of a light-evoked decrease in its concentration by keeping cAMP-dependent processes fully activated. Neither cyclic nucleotide had any influence on the generation, light sensitivity, recovery, or background adaptation of the flash response. These results also argue against the participation of phosducin in the sequence of events that are responsible for these aspects of rod function. This does not exclude the possibility of phosducin being involved in adaptation caused by higher light levels than used in the present study, that is, bleaching adaptation, or in light-dependent processes other than phototransduction.