The Role of the Retinal Degeneration B Protein in the Drosophila Visual System

Function of Drosophila rdgB Protein in Photoreceptors
  • D. R. Hyde
  • S. Milligan
  • T. S. Vihtelic


The Drosophila melanogaster visual system has been extensively studied using molecular, genetic and biochemical approaches. These analyses have uncovered several key components that are required for phototransduction. At least four different rhodopsin molecules are utilized to absorb light [1]. The rhodopsins have different spectral sensitivities and are expressed in mutually exclusive photoreceptor cells of the larval photoorgan, the adult ocelli, and the compound eye. The ninaE gene encodes the opsin that is expressed in photoreceptors R1-6 in the compound eye [2, 3]. The Drosophila phototransduction cascade has an absolute requirement for the norpA + gene [1,4, 5], which encodes a phosphatidylinositol-specific phospholipase C-β (PLC) protein [6, 7]. A retinal-specific heterotrimeric G-protein links the photoactivated metarhodopsin and the norpA-encoded PLC. The G protein’s alpha subunit (DGqα), which is a member of the Gqa subfamily, is encoded by the dgq gene [8]. Biochemical and genetic data demonstrate that the DGqa protein responds to light-activated metarhodopsin and in turn, stimulates the norpA -encoded PLC [9]. A mutation in the retinal-specific Gβ subunit, gbe, produces an abnormal electrophysiological response to light [10]. The maC-encoded, retinal-specific protein kinase C [11] is thought to be stimulated by diacyl glycerol, which is generated from the PLC-mediated hydrolysis of PIP2. Even though this inaC-encoded protein kinase C is activated by the products of PLC hydrolysis, it is not required for activation of the light channels. Rather, this protein kinase C plays a role in the deactivation of the light-response [11, 12, 13, 14, 15]. While the ligands of the invertebrate light-activated channels are not known, it appears that the transient receptor potential (trp) gene encodes one type of these channels [16, 17, 18].


Retinitis Pigmentosa Photoreceptor Cell Retinal Degeneration Mouse Retina Opsin Gene 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. R. Hyde
    • 1
  • S. Milligan
    • 1
  • T. S. Vihtelic
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesUniversity of Notre DameNotre DameUSA
  2. 2.Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary Department of OphthalmologyHowe LaboratoryBostonUSA

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