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Annu Rev Physiol. 2002;64:153-87.

G proteins and phototransduction.

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1
Howe Laboratory of Ophthalmology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02114, USA. vadim_arshavsky@meei.harvard.edu

Abstract

Phototransduction is the process by which a photon of light captured by a molecule of visual pigment generates an electrical response in a photoreceptor cell. Vertebrate rod phototransduction is one of the best-studied G protein signaling pathways. In this pathway the photoreceptor-specific G protein, transducin, mediates between the visual pigment, rhodopsin, and the effector enzyme, cGMP phosphodiesterase. This review focuses on two quantitative features of G protein signaling in phototransduction: signal amplification and response timing. We examine how the interplay between the mechanisms that contribute to amplification and those that govern termination of G protein activity determine the speed and the sensitivity of the cellular response to light.

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