Electrophysiological investigations were carried out on several independently isolated mutants of the ninaE gene, which encodes opsin in R1-6 photoreceptors, and a mutant of the ninaD gene, which is probably important in the formation of the rhodopsin chromophore. In these mutants, the rhodopsin content in R1-6 photoreceptors is reduced by 10(2)-10(6)-fold. Light-induced bumps recorded from even the most severely affected mutants are physiologically normal. Moreover, a detailed noise analysis shows that photoreceptor responses of both a ninaE mutant and a ninaD mutant follow the adapting bump model. Since any extensive rhodopsin-rhodopsin interactions are not likely in these mutants, the above results suggest that such interactions are not needed for the generation and adaptation of light-induced bumps. Mutant bumps are strikingly larger in amplitude than wild-type bumps. This difference is observed both in ninaD and ninaE mutants, which suggests that it is due to severe depletion of rhodopsin content, rather than to any specific alterations in the opsin protein. Lowering or buffering the intracellular calcium concentration by EGTA injection mimics the effects of the mutations on the bump amplitude, but, unlike the mutations, it also affects the latency and kinetics of light responses.

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