Heterotrimeric G‐proteins relay signals between membrane‐bound receptors and downstream effectors. Little is known, however, about the regulation of Gα subunit localization within the natural endogenous environment of a specialized signaling cell. Here we show, using live Drosophila flies, that light causes massive and reversible translocation of the visual Gqα to the cytosol, associated with marked architectural changes in the signaling compartment. Molecular genetic dissection together with detailed kinetic analysis enabled us to characterize the translocation cycle and to unravel how signaling molecules that interact with Gqα affect these processes. Epistatic analysis showed that Gqα is necessary but not sufficient to bring about the morphological changes in the signaling organelle. Furthermore, mutant analysis indicated that Gqβ is essential for targeting of Gqα to the membrane and suggested that Gqβ is also needed for efficient activation of Gqα by rhodopsin. Our results support the ‘two‐signal model’ hypothesis for membrane targeting in a living organism and characterize the regulation of both the activity‐dependent Gq localization and the cellular architectural changes in Drosophila photoreceptors.
Regulation of light‐dependent Gqα translocation and morphological changes in fly photoreceptors
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