The Transition of Photoreceptor Guanylate Cyclase Type 1 to the Active State
International Journal of Molecular Sciences
Membrane-bound guanylate cyclases (GCs), which synthesize the second messenger guanosine-3', 5'-cyclic monophosphate, differ in their activation modes to reach the active state. Hormone peptides bind to the extracellular domain in hormone-receptor-type GCs and trigger a conformational change in the intracellular, cytoplasmic part of the enzyme. Sensory GCs that are present in rod and cone photoreceptor cells have intracellular binding sites for regulatory Ca2+-sensor proteins, named guanylate-cyclase-activating proteins. A rotation model of activation involving an Α-helix rotation was described as a common activation motif among hormone-receptor GCs. We tested whether the photoreceptor GC-E underwent an Α-helix rotation when reaching the active state. We experimentally simulated such a transitory switch by integrating alanine residues close to the transmembrane region, and compared the effects of alanine integration with the point mutation V902L in GC-E. The V902L mutation is found in patients suffering from retinal cone-rod dystrophies, and leads to a constitutively active state of GC-E. We analyzed the enzymatic catalytic parameters of wild-type and mutant GC-E. Our data showed no involvement of an Α-helix rotation when reaching the active state, indicating a difference in hormone receptor GCs. To characterize the protein conformations that represent the transition to the active state, we investigated the protein dynamics by using a computational approach based on all-atom molecular dynamics simulations. We detected a swinging movement of the dimerization domain in the V902L mutant as the critical conformational switch in the cyclase going from the low to high activity state.