PloS one

β-Arrestin-dependent deactivation of mouse melanopsin.

PMID 25401926


In mammals, the expression of the unusual visual pigment, melanopsin, is restricted to a small subset of intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells (ipRGCs), whose signaling regulate numerous non-visual functions including sleep, circadian photoentrainment and pupillary constriction. IpRGCs exhibit attenuated electrical responses following sequential and prolonged light exposures indicative of an adaptational response. The molecular mechanisms underlying deactivation and adaptation in ipRGCs however, have yet to be fully elucidated. The role of melanopsin phosphorylation and β-arrestin binding in this adaptive process is suggested by the phosphorylation-dependent reduction of melanopsin signaling in vitro and the ubiquitous expression of β-arrestin in the retina. These observations, along with the conspicuous absence of visual arrestin in ipRGCs, suggest that a β-arrestin terminates melanopsin signaling. Here, we describe a light- and phosphorylation- dependent reduction in melanopsin signaling mediated by both β-arrestin 1 and β-arrestin 2. Using an in vitro calcium imaging assay, we demonstrate that increasing the cellular concentration of β-arrestin 1 and β-arrestin 2 significantly increases the rate of deactivation of light-activated melanopsin in HEK293 cells. Furthermore, we show that this response is dependent on melanopsin carboxyl-tail phosphorylation. Crosslinking and co-immunoprecipitation experiments confirm β-arrestin 1 and β-arrestin 2 bind to melanopsin in a light- and phosphorylation- dependent manner. These data are further supported by proximity ligation assays (PLA), which demonstrate a melanopsin/β-arrestin interaction in HEK293 cells and ipRGCs. Together, these results suggest that melanopsin signaling is terminated in a light- and phosphorylation-dependent manner through the binding of a β-arrestin within the retina.