IRP scientists discover essential step in recharging the eye’s light-sensing retina

Scientists have discovered a mechanism by which an area of a protein shape-shifts to convert vitamin A into a form usable by the eye’s light-sensing photoreceptor cells. A previously uncharacterized area of the protein known as RPE65 spontaneously turns spiral-shaped when it encounters intracellular membranes, or thin structures that surround different parts of a cell.

This shapeshifting enables RPE65 to enter the endoplasmic reticulum — a network of sac-like structures and tubes — where RPE65 performs the crucial task of vitamin A conversion. The scientists say the discovery provides better understanding of RPE65’s function and will inform potential treatments for vision disorders linked to RPE65 gene mutations. Researchers at the National Eye Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health, conducted the research, which published in Life Science Alliance.

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This page was last updated on Wednesday, October 26, 2022