Rhodopsin in Experimental Membranes: An Approach to Elucidate Its Role in the Process of Phototransduction

  • M. Montal


Photoreceptor cells in both vertebrate and invertebrate retinas behave as single quantum detectors. The chemical basis for this light sensitivity has been accounted for by the presence, in these specialized cells, of a chromophore-bearing protein generically known as rhodopsin (WALD, 1968). In the rod cell of the vertebrate retina, rhodopsin has been purified and characterized to a great extent (cf. KROPF, 1972; ABRAHAMSON, FAGER, 1973): rhodopsin is a lipoglycoprotein which constitutes over 80% of the membrane protein in the cell outer segment (ROBINSON, GORDON-WALKER, BOWNDS, 1972; HEITZMAN, 1972; HELLER, LAWRENCE, 1970; STEINEMANN, STRYER, 1973). Its chromophore, retinaldehyde, is covalently attached as a Schiff-base to the ε-amino group of a lysine in the protein moiety, traditionally called opsin (AKHTAR et al., 1967; BOWNDS, 1967). It is well established that the absorption of a light quantum leads to the immediate isomerization of the polyene chromophore from the 11-cis to the transisomeric form (HUBBARD, KROPF, 1958; HUBBARD, BOWNDS, YOSHIZAWA, 1965) and that this primary photochemical event is followed by a sequence of chemical changes (dark thermal reactions) that have been characterized by spectral changes and lifetimes at various temperatures. The final reaction is the hydrolysis of the Schiff base.


Outer Segment Visual Pigment Disc Membrane Vertebrate Photoreceptor Photoreceptor Organ 
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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1975

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. Montal
    • 1
  1. 1.Departamento de BioquimicaCentro de Investigación y de Estudios Avanzados del Instituto Politécnico NacionalMéxico 14D.F. México

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