Visual Transduction

  • Gordon L. Fain
  • Wayne L. Hubbell
Part of the Readings from the Encyclopedia of Neuroscience book series (REN)


Figure 1A is a schematic representation of the salient structural features of the vertebrate rod cell. As indicated, the cell has two distinct anatomical regions, the inner and outer segments. The inner segment contains the subcellular organelles required for the usual metabolic processes of the cell and terminates in a synaptic foot. The outer segment is specialized for phototransduction and is densely packed with a highly ordered Stack of flattened membrane saccules generally referred to as discs, the individual membranes of which contain the integral membrane protein rhodopsin in high concentration. The rims of the discs have an exceedingly small radius of curvature and are specialized structures with a composition distinctly different from the planar regions of the membrane. The adjacent membranes of a disc lie in close apposition, resulting in a very attenuated intradiscal spacing of only about 30 Å. The highly regular spacing between adjacent discs (approximately 150 Å) and between the disc rims and the plasma membrane of the outer segment is apparently achieved by filamentous structures that bridge the interdisc and disc-plasma membrane spaces. This cytoskeletal network is presumably responsible for the observed structural rigidity of the outer segment.


Outer Segment Light Response Rhodopsin Molecule Visual Transduction Plasma Membrane Ionic Channel 
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Further reading

  1. Fain G, Lisman J (1981): Membrane conductors in photoreceptors. Proc Biophys Mol Biol 37: 91–147CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Hargrave P (1982): Rhodopsin chemistry, structure and topography. In: Progress in Retinal Research, Vol 1, Osbourne N, Chader G, eds. New York: Pergamon PressGoogle Scholar
  3. Kuhn H (1984) Interactions between photoexcited rhodopsin and light- activated enzymes in rods. In: Progress in Retinal Research, Vol 3, Osbourne N, Chader G, eds. New York: Pergamon PressGoogle Scholar
  4. Miller W (1981): Current Topics in Membranes and Transport, Vol Visual Transduction 15. New York: Academic PressGoogle Scholar
  5. Stryer L (1986): Cyclic GMP cascade of vision. Ann Rev Neurosci. 9: 87–119CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gordon L. Fain
  • Wayne L. Hubbell

There are no affiliations available

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