Mutation of wrb, a component of the guided entry of Tail-Anchored protein pathway, disrupts photoreceptor synapse structure and function

Lauren L. Daniele, Farida Emran, Glenn P. Lobo, Robert J. Gaivin, Brian D. Perkins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


PURPOSE. Tail-anchored (TA) proteins contain a single hydrophobic domain at the C-terminus and are posttranslationally inserted into the ER membrane via the GET (guided entry of tailanchored proteins) pathway. The role of the GET pathway in photoreceptors is unexplored. The goal of this study was to characterize the zebrafish pinball wizard mutant, which disrupts Wrb, a core component of the GET pathway. METHODS. Electroretinography, optokinetic response measurements (OKR), immunohistochemistry, and electron microscopy analyses were employed to assess ribbon synapse function, protein expression, and ultrastructure in 5-day-old zebrafish larvae. Expression of wrb was investigated with real-time qRT-PCR and in situ hybridization. RESULTS. Mutation of wrb abolished the OKR and greatly diminished the ERG b-wave, but not the a-wave. Ribeye and SV2 were partially mislocalized in both photoreceptors and hair cells of wrb mutants. Fewer contacts were seen between photoreceptors and bipolar cells in wrb-/- mutants. Expression of wrb was observed throughout the nervous system and Wrb localized to the ER and synaptic region of photoreceptors. Morpholino knockdown of the cytosolic ATPase trc40, which targets TA proteins to the ER, also diminished the OKR. Overexpression of wrb fully restored contrast sensitivity in mutants, while overexpression of mutant wrbR73A, which cannot bind Trc40, did not. CONCLUSIONS. Proteins Wrb and Trc40 are required for synaptic transmission between photoreceptors and bipolar cells, indicating that TA protein insertion by the TRC pathway is a critical step in ribbon synapse assembly and function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2942-2954
Number of pages13
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jun 2016
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Supported by NIH Grant EY021865 and a Doris and Jules Stein Professorship Award from Research to Prevent Blindness (BDP). The authors alone are responsible for the content and writing of the paper.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016, Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology Inc. All rights reserved.


  • Optokinetic response
  • Photoreceptors
  • Ribbon synapse
  • Zebrafish


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