Activation, deactivation, and adaptation in vertebrate photoreceptor cells

Annu Rev Neurosci. 2001;24:779-805. doi: 10.1146/annurev.neuro.24.1.779.


Visual transduction captures widespread interest because its G-protein signaling motif recurs throughout nature yet is uniquely accessible for study in the photoreceptor cells. The light-activated currents generated at the photoreceptor outer segment provide an easily observed real-time measure of the output of the signaling cascade, and the ease of obtaining pure samples of outer segments in reasonable quantity facilitates biochemical experiments. A quiet revolution in the study of the mechanism has occurred during the past decade with the advent of gene-targeting techniques. These have made it possible to observe how transduction is perturbed by the deletion, overexpression, or mutation of specific components of the transduction apparatus.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • GTP-Binding Proteins / physiology
  • Humans
  • Photoreceptor Cells, Vertebrate / physiology*
  • Retinal Cone Photoreceptor Cells / physiology
  • Retinal Rod Photoreceptor Cells / physiology
  • Signal Transduction
  • Vision, Ocular / physiology*


  • GTP-Binding Proteins