Photoreceptor cells in our eyes can adjust to both weak and strong light levels, but we still don't know exactly how they do it.
Emeritus Professor Fumio Hayashi of Kobe University and his colleagues revealed that the photoreceptor protein rhodopsin forms transient clusters within the disc membranes in retina.
These clusters are concentrated in the center of disc membranes, and act as platforms in the process of light to chemical signal conversion.
The research team for this study include Associate Professor Kenichi Morigaki (Biosignal Research Center, Kobe University), Emeritus Professor Shohei Maekawa (Graduate School of Science, Kobe University), Associate Professor Keiji Seno (Faculty of Medicine, Hamamatsu University School of Medicine) and Researcher Natsumi Saito (School of Medicine, Jichi Medical University).
Within the rod-shaped photoreceptor cells in our retinas there are roughly 1,000 layers of disc-shaped membranes, a few micrometers in diameter.
In this study, researchers used the latest technology and analysis methods to investigate the single molecule dynamics of rhodopsin and G protein transducin as well as lipid molecules within disc membranes.