Protein sorting, targeting and trafficking in photoreceptor cells

Prog Retin Eye Res. 2013 Sep;36:24-51. doi: 10.1016/j.preteyeres.2013.03.002. Epub 2013 Apr 3.


Vision is the most fundamental of our senses initiated when photons are absorbed by the rod and cone photoreceptor neurons of the retina. At the distal end of each photoreceptor resides a light-sensing organelle, called the outer segment, which is a modified primary cilium highly enriched with proteins involved in visual signal transduction. At the proximal end, each photoreceptor has a synaptic terminal, which connects this cell to the downstream neurons for further processing of the visual information. Understanding the mechanisms involved in creating and maintaining functional compartmentalization of photoreceptor cells remains among the most fascinating topics in ocular cell biology. This review will discuss how photoreceptor compartmentalization is supported by protein sorting, targeting and trafficking, with an emphasis on the best-studied cases of outer segment-resident proteins.

Keywords: Cilium; Outer segment; Photoreceptor; Protein targeting; Protein trafficking.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Photoreceptor Cells, Vertebrate / physiology*
  • Protein Transport / physiology*