Purpose: Following a previous study that demonstrated a correlation between rhodopsin stability and the severity of retinitis pigmentosa (RP), we investigated whether predictions of severity can be improved with a regional analysis of this correlation. The association between changes to the stability of the protein and the relative amount of rhodopsin reaching the plasma membrane was assessed. Methods: Crystallography-based estimations of mutant rhodopsin stability were compared with descriptions in the scientific literature of the visual function of mutation carriers to determine the extent of associations between rhodopsin stability and clinical phenotype. To test the findings of this analysis, three residues of a green fluorescent protein (GFP) tagged rhodopsin plasmid were targeted with site-directed random mutagenesis to generate mutant variants with a range of stability changes. These plasmids were transfected into HEK-293 cells, and then flow cytometry was used to measure rhodopsin on the cells' plasma membrane. The GFP signal was used to measure the ratio between this membrane-bound rhodopsin and total cellular rhodopsin. FoldX stability predictions were then compared with the surface staining data and clinical data from the database to characterize the relationship between rhodopsin stability, the severity of RP, and the expression of rhodopsin at the cell surface. Results: There was a strong linear correlation between the scale of the destabilization of mutant variants and the severity of retinal disease. A correlation was also seen in vitro between stability and the amount of rhodopsin at the plasma membrane. Rhodopsin is drastically reduced on the surface of cells transfected with variants that differ in their inherent stability from the wild-type by more than 2 kcal/mol. Below this threshold, surface levels are closer to those of the wild-type. Conclusions: There is a correlation between the stability of rhodopsin mutations and disease severity and levels of membrane-bound rhodopsin. Measuring membrane-bound rhodopsin with flow cytometry could improve prognoses for poorly characterized mutations and could provide a platform for measuring the effectiveness of treatments. © 2014 Molecular Vision.
|Publication status||Published - 2014|