The Eye of the Beholder

The Eye of the Beholder

Author: David Bradley

Researchers at Emory, USA, and Kyoto, Japan, Universities used hybrid quantum mechanics/molecular mechanics to investigate the structure and stability of pigments in the eye. They hoped to understand why evolution naturally selected the 11-cis form of retinal in the visual pigment rhodopsin, rather than any of the other possible forms of 7-cis-, 9-cis-, or 13-cis-retinal. This question has remained a basic and unresolved puzzle in vision biochemistry for many years.

Their study suggests that electrostatic interactions between retinal and opsin predominate in the natural selection of 11-cis-retinal over other cis isomers in the dark state. This makes the light-sensitive pigment rhodopsin strongest with the 11-cis isomer.

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