Our vision has such a large dynamic range that we can adjust to see under the glaring light of high noon to traverse a desert or detect the small scattering of photons that reach our eye after traveling for 2.5 million light-years from the Andromeda Galaxy.
How is this possible? One part of the answer to that question lies in the cellular organization of our photoreceptors where a division of labor ensures optimal function. The phototransduction cascade, one of the best studied G-protein signaling pathways, is confined to the membrane discs of the outer segment; while energy production, metabolism, lipid and protein synthesis are confined to the inner segment. Distinct from the outer or inner segment, the ribbon synapse is where communication to downstream neurons in the retina is regulated. We study how various proteins are trafficked to, and organized within, these compartments using mouse or frog photoreceptors as our model systems. By gaining insight into the interplay between the regulated trafficking of different proteins and the development and health of photoreceptors the vision research community will be better positioned to combat blindness.
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