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Purpose - The purpose of this study was to identify the molecular defect in the disease-causing human arrestin-1 C147F mutant.
Methods - The binding of wild-type (WT) human arrestin-1 and several mutants with substitutions in position 147 (including C147F, which causes dominant retinitis pigmentosa in humans) to phosphorylated and unphosphorylated light-activated rhodopsin was determined. Thermal stability of WT and mutant human arrestin-1, as well as unfolded protein response in 661W cells, were also evaluated.
Results - WT human arrestin-1 was selective for phosphorylated light-activated rhodopsin. Substitutions of Cys-147 with smaller side chain residues, Ala or Val, did not substantially affect binding selectivity, whereas residues with bulky side chains in the position 147 (Ile, Leu, and disease-causing Phe) greatly increased the binding to unphosphorylated rhodopsin. Functional survival of mutant proteins with bulky substitutions at physiological and elevated temperature was also compromised. C147F mutant induced unfolded protein response in cultured cells.
Conclusions - Bulky Phe substitution of Cys-147 in human arrestin-1 likely causes rod degeneration due to reduced stability of the protein, which induces unfolded protein response in expressing cells.