Cyclic nucleotide phosphodiesterases (PDEs) hydrolyze the second messengers cAMP and cGMP. PDEs control numerous cellular processes making them promising targets for the development of therapeutic agents. Unfortunately, many PDE inhibitor molecules are non-selective among PDE classes and efficient methods for quantitative studies on the isoform-specificity of PDE inhibitors in the natural environments of PDEs are unavailable. The PDE in photoreceptors, PDE6, mediates the conversion of photon information into electrical signals making the retina an exceptional model system for examinations of the pharmacological effects of PDE inhibitors on PDE6. Here we introduce electroretinography-based methods for determining the inhibition constants of PDE inhibitors towards the naturally occurring light-activated and spontaneously activated forms of PDE6. We compare our results to earlier biochemical determinations with trypsin-activated PDE6 with disintegrated PDE6 γ-subunit. The potencies of PDE inhibitors were determined by stimulating the photoreceptors of isolated mouse retinas with light and tracking the inhibitor-induced changes in their electrical responses. The methods were tested with three PDE inhibitors, 3-isobutyl-1-methylxanthine (IBMX), sildenafil, and zaprinast. The inhibition constants towards light-activated, spontaneously activated, and trypsin-activated PDE6 differed significantly from each other for sildenafil and zaprinast but were closely similar for IBMX. We hypothesize that this is due to the ability of the PDE6 γ-subunit to compete with sildenafil and zaprinast from the same binding sites near the catalytic domain of PDE6. The introduced methods are beneficial both for selecting potent molecules for PDE6 inhibition and for testing the drugs targeted at other PDE isoforms against adverse effects on visual function.
- Ex vivo electroretinography
- Inhibition constant