Progressive visual impairment leading to blindness is often associated with inherited retinal dystrophies. These disorders correlate in most cases with mutations in genes that code for proteins of the visual transduction system in rod and cone photoreceptor cells. Recent progress has highlighted the involvement of a neuronal calcium sensor protein that is specifically expressed in rod and cone cells and operates as a guanylate cyclase-activating protein (GCAP). A group of patients suffering from cone or cone-rod dystrophies carry mutations in the GCAP1 gene, and biochemical analysis of GCAP1 function revealed that for most of these mutations GCAP1 exhibits a disturbance in its Ca 2+-sensing and its guanylate cyclase-activating properties. Cellular consequences of different GCAP1 mutations are compared and discussed.
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