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Physiol Res. 1998;47(3):155-68.

Vertebrate phototransduction: activation, recovery, and adaptation.

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  • 1Department of Physiology and Biophysics, University of Washington, Seattle 98195, USA.


Vision is a fascinating example of the interaction of a biological system with the outside world. The first step of translating electromagnetic energy into a biologically recognizable signal involves the phototransduction cascade in retinal photoreceptor cells. Phototransduction is the best studied example of a GTP binding protein (G protein)-coupled signal transduction pathway. A great body of knowledge about phototransduction has been established in the past several decades but there are still many unanswered questions, particularly about photoresponse recovery and adaptation. The purpose of this review is to outline the events following photon absorption by vertebrate photoreceptors, to demonstrate the great complexity of the phototransduction cascade mechanisms, and to point out some of the controversies arising from recent findings in the field of visual transduction.

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