Vision begins when a special molecule absorbs a photon, and our eyes are sensitive enough to allow us to detect changes to individual molecules in a cell. This requires amplification of a tiny signal to produce an electrical response large enough for our brain to notice through a process called phototransduction.
In this video, I show how this amplification is a physical process, relying on random motion and chance encounters, but that produces repeatable and reliable signals.
3:16 Cyclic GMP
4:01 Electric signal
Animations were made in Blender and Maya by Kerry Kim. This work is copyright 2021. All rights reserved.
3D coordinate files for proteins:
PDB ID: 7LFY
Xue, J. Han, Y., Zeng, W., Wang, Y., Jiang, Y. (2021) Structural mechanisms of gating and selectivity of human rod CNGA1 channel. doi: 10.2210/pdb7LFY/pdb
PDB ID: 7JSN
Gao, Y., Eskici, G., Ramachandran, S., Skiniotis, G., Cerione, R.A. (2020) Structure of the visual signaling complex between transducin and phosphodiesterase 6. doi: 10.2210/pdb7JSN/pdb
PDB ID: 1GOT
Lambright, D. G., Sondek, J., Bohm, A., Skiba, N.P., Hamm, H.E., Sigler, P.B. (1996) Heterotrimeic complex of a gt-alpha/gi-alpha chimera and the gt-beta-gamma subunits. doi: 10.2210/pdb1GOT/pdb
PDB ID: 1F88
Palczewski, K., Kumasaka, T., Hori, T., Behnke, C.A., Motoshima, H., Fox, B.A., Le Trong, I., Teller, D.C., Okata, T., Stenkamp, R.E., Yamamoto, M., Miyano, M. (2000) Crystal structure of bovine rhodopsin. doi: 10.2210/pdb1F88/pdb