Normal termination of signaling is essential to reset signaling cascades, especially those such as phototransduction that are turned on and off with great rapidity. Genetic approaches in Drosophila led to the identification of several proteins required for termination, including protein kinase C (PKC), NINAC (neither inactivation nor afterpotential C) p174, which consists of fused protein kinase and myosin domains, and a PDZ (postsynaptic density-95/Discs Large/zona occludens-1) scaffold protein, INAD (inactivation no afterpotential D). Here, we describe a mutation affecting a poorly characterized but evolutionarily conserved protein, Retinophilin (Retin), which is expressed primarily in the phototransducing compartment of photoreceptor cells, the rhabdomeres. Retin and NINAC formed a complex and were mutually dependent on each other for expression. Loss of retin resulted in an age-dependent impairment in termination of phototransduction. Mutations that affect termination of the photoresponse typically lead to a reduction in levels of the major rhodopsin (Rh1) to attenuate signaling. Consistent with the slower termination in retin1, the mutant photoreceptor cells exhibited increased endocytosis of Rh1 and a decline in Rh1 protein. The slower termination in retin1 was a consequence of a cascade of defects, which began with the reduction in NINAC p174 levels. The diminished p174 concentration caused a decrease in INAD. Because PKC requires interaction with INAD for protein stability, this leads to reduction in PKC levels. The decline in PKC was age dependent and paralleled the onset of the termination phenotype in retin 1 mutant flies. We conclude that the slower termination of the photoresponse in retin1 resulted from a requirement for the Retin/NINAC complex for stability of INAD and PKC.
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