Diverse Localization of Cyclic Nucleotide Gated Channels in the Outer Segments of Rods and Cones

  • Marion S. Eckmiller


The spatial distribution of cyclic nucleotide gated (CNG) channel molecules in photoreceptor outer segments (OS) dissociated from amphibian retinas was investigated by performing immunofluorescent localization of spectrin and using the known spectrin immunoreactivity of the beta subunit of the channel in rods to infer the location of CNG channels. In the OS of rods and cones, anti-spectrin immunoreactivity occurred as a bright streak of fluorescence at the ciliary axoneme. Rod OS displayed an additional pattern of staining not present in cone OS, namely a series of thin, discrete, longitudinal lines of fluorescence that extended the entire length of the OS and coincided with incisures. Thus, the location of immunoreactivity to spectrin in the OS of both photoreceptor cell types coincided with locations known to contain arrays of longitudinally-oriented microtubules. These findings provide strong evidence that CNG channel molecules are confined within OS membranes to specific restricted locations in the immediate vicinity of microtubules, eg., CNG channel molecules may be tethered to microtubules via the spectrin-like portion of their beta subunits. Because the localization of CNG channels within photoreceptor OS is expected to influence the spatiotemporal dynamics of phototransduction and adaptation, the diverse localization of channels within the OS could contribute to the different functional properties of rods and cones. Because evidence suggests that the OS of human and amphibian photoreceptors have similar microtubule-containing cytoskeletal systems at similar locations, the spatial distribution of CNG channel molecules described here for amphibian photoreceptor OS is also expected to occur in human photoreceptor OS. A disturbance in the localization of CNG channels, or in their associations with other molecules or microtubules, within photoreceptor OS is expected to disturb OS structure and function, which may be relevant for some human retinal degenerations.


Retinitis Pigmentosa Outer Segment Photoreceptor Outer Segment Diverse Localization Usher Syndrome 
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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic / Plenum Publishers 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marion S. Eckmiller
    • 1
  1. 1.C. and O. Vogt Brain Research InstituteHeinrich Heine University of Düsseldorf School of MedicineDüsseldorfGermany

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