Expression of a synthetic bovine rhodopsin gene in monkey kidney cells
We report here the high-level expression of a synthetic gene for bovine rhodopsin in transfected monkey kidney COS-1 cells. Rhodopsin is produced in these cells to a level of 0.3% of the cell protein, and it binds exogenously added 11-cis-retinal to generate the characteristic rhodopsin absorption spectrum. We describe a one-step immunoaffinity procedure for purification of the rhodopsin essentially to homogeneity. The COS-1 cell rhodopsin activates the GTPase activity of bovine transducin in a light-dependent manner with the same specific activity as that of purified bovine rhodopsin. Electron microscopy of immunogold-stained cells indicates that rhodopsin is located in the plasma membrane of the transfected cells and is oriented with the amino terminus on the extracellular side of the membrane. This orientation is analogous to that of rhodopsin in the disk membranes of photoreceptor cells in the bovine retina.