Identification of PKCα-dependent phosphoproteins in mouse retina

Colin M. Wakeham, Phillip A. Wilmarth, Jennifer M. Cunliffe, John E. Klimek, Gaoying Ren, Larry L. David, Catherine W. Morgans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Adjusting to a wide range of light intensities is an essential feature of retinal rod bipolar cell (RBC) function. While persuasive evidence suggests this modulation involves phosphorylation by protein kinase C-alpha (PKCα), the targets of PKCα phosphorylation in the retina have not been identified. PKCα activity and phosphorylation in RBCs was examined by immunofluorescence confocal microscopy using a conformation-specific PKCα antibody and antibodies to phosphorylated PKC motifs. PKCα activity was dependent on light and expression of TRPM1, and RBC dendrites were the primary sites of light-dependent phosphorylation. PKCα-dependent retinal phosphoproteins were identified using a phosphoproteomics approach to compare total protein and phosphopeptide abundance between phorbol ester-treated wild type and PKCα knockout (PKCα-KO) mouse retinas. Phosphopeptide mass spectrometry identified over 1100 phosphopeptides in mouse retina, with 12 displaying significantly greater phosphorylation in WT compared to PKCα-KO samples. The differentially phosphorylated proteins fall into the following functional groups: cytoskeleton/trafficking (4 proteins), ECM/adhesion (2 proteins), signaling (2 proteins), transcriptional regulation (3 proteins), and homeostasis/metabolism (1 protein). Two strongly differentially expressed phosphoproteins, BORG4 and TPBG, were localized to the synaptic layers of the retina, and may play a role in PKCα-dependent modulation of RBC physiology. Data are available via ProteomeXchange with identifier PXD012906. Significance: Retinal rod bipolar cells (RBCs), the second-order neurons of the mammalian rod visual pathway, are able to modulate their sensitivity to remain functional across a wide range of light intensities, from starlight to daylight. Evidence suggests that this modulation requires the serine/threonine kinase, PKCα, though the specific mechanism by which PKCα modulates RBC physiology is unknown. This study examined PKCα phosophorylation patterns in mouse rod bipolar cells and then used a phosphoproteomics approach to identify PKCα-dependent phosphoproteins in the mouse retina. A small number of retinal proteins showed significant PKCα-dependent phosphorylation, including BORG4 and TPBG, suggesting a potential contribution to PKCα-dependent modulation of RBC physiology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number103423
JournalJournal of Proteomics
StatePublished - Aug 30 2019


  • BORG4
  • Protein kinase C-alpha
  • Quantitative phosphoproteomics
  • Retina
  • Rod bipolar cell
  • TPBG

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry


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