Localization of HRG4, a photoreceptor protein homologous to unc-119, in ribbon synapse

Tomomi Higashide, Margaret J. McLaren, George Inana

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


PURPOSE. To characterize further HRG4, a novel photoreceptor protein recently identified by subtractive cDNA cloning, by sequence analysis and immunolocalization. METHODS. The rat homolog of HRG4, RRG4 was expressed and used to prepare an antibody. The antibody was used in Western blot analysis, and immunofluorescent localization at the light and electron microscopic levels of HRG4-RRG4 protein. The HRG4-RRG4 sequence was also analyzed for homologies. RESULTS. HRG4-RRG4 showed 57% homology with unc-119, a Caenorhabditis elegans neuroprotein causing defects in locomotion, feeding, and chemosensation when mutated. By Western blot analysis, the HRG4-RRG4 protein was demonstrable only in retina and was soluble in nature. Immunofluorescence microscopic study of human and rat retinas, using the HRG4-RRG4 antibody, and other rod and cone photoreceptor-specific antibodies showed that the HRG4-RRG4 protein is localized in the outer plexiform layer of the retina in the synaptic termini of rod and cone photoreceptors. Electron microscopic immunolocalization showed the protein in the cytoplasm and on the presynaptic membranes of the photoreceptor synapses. CONCLUSIONS. The homology to unc-119 and localization to the photoreceptor synapse are suggestive of a function for HRG4-RRG4 in photoreceptor neurotransmission. HRG4 is the first photoreceptor-enriched synaptic protein to be reported, suggesting that its function may be unique to the specialized ribbon synapses formed between photoreceptors and the horizontal and bipolar cells of the retina.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)690-698
Number of pages9
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
Issue number5
StatePublished - Apr 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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