Vertebrate visual pigment proteins contain a conserved carboxylic acid residue in the third transmembrane helix. In rhodopsin, Glu113 serves as a counterion to the positively charged protonated Schiff base formed by 11-cis retinal attached to Lys296. Activation involves breaking of this ion pair. In UV cone pigments, the retinyl Schiff base is unprotonated, and hence such a salt bridge is not present; yet the pigment is inactive in the dark. Mutation of Glu108, which corresponds to rhodopsin's Glu113, to Gln yields a pigment that remains inactive in the dark. The apoproteins of both the wild-type and mutant, however, are constitutively active with the mutant being of significantly higher activity. Thus, one important role for preserving the negatively charged glutamate in the third helix of UV pigments is to maintain a less active opsin in a manner similar to rhodopsin. Ligand binding itself in the absence of a salt bridge is sufficient for deactivation. © 2005 Federation of European Biochemical Societies. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Kono, M. (2006). Constitutive activity of a UV cone opsin. FEBS Letters, 580(1), 229–232. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.febslet.2005.12.002