- Retinal degeneration-3 protein (RD3) deficiency causes photoreceptor dysfunction and rapid degeneration in the rd3 mouse strain and in human Leber’s congenital amaurosis, a congenital retinal dystrophy that results in early vision loss. However, the mechanisms responsible for photoreceptor death remain unclear. Here, we tested two hypothesized biochemical events that may underlie photoreceptor death: (i) the failure to prevent aberrant activation of retinal guanylyl cyclase (RetGC) by calcium-sensor proteins (GCAPs) versus (ii) the reduction of GMP phosphorylation rate, preventing its recycling to GDP/GTP.
- Retinal degeneration-3 (RD3) protein protects photoreceptors from degeneration by preventing retinal guanylyl cyclase (RetGC) activation via calcium-sensing guanylyl cyclase–activating proteins (GCAP), and RD3 truncation causes severe congenital blindness in humans and other animals. The three-dimensional structure of RD3 has recently been established, but the molecular mechanisms of its inhibitory binding to RetGC remain unclear. Here, we report the results of probing 133 surface-exposed residues in RD3 by single substitutions and deletions to identify side chains that are critical for the inhibitory binding of RD3 to RetGC.
- Retinal degeneration 3 (RD3) protein, essential for normal expression of retinal membrane guanylyl cyclase (RetGC) in photoreceptor cells, blocks RetGC catalytic activity and stimulation by guanylyl cyclase-activating proteins (GCAPs). In a mouse retina, RD3 inhibited both RetGC1 and RetGC2 isozymes. Photoreceptors in the rd3/rd3 mouse retinas lacking functional RD3 degenerated more severely than in the retinas lacking both RetGC isozymes, consistent with a hypothesis that the inhibitory activity of RD3 has a functional role in photoreceptors.