Vertebrate vision begins when retinal photoreceptors transduce photons into electrical signals that are then relayed to other neurons in the eye, and ultimately to the brain. In rod photoreceptors, transduction of single photons is achieved by a well-understood G-protein cascade that modulates cGMP levels, and in turn, cGMP-sensitive inward current. The spatial extent and depth of the decline in cGMP during the single photon response (SPR) have been major issues in phototransduction research since the discovery that single photons elicit substantial and reproducible changes in membrane current. The spatial profile of cGMP decline during the SPR affects signal gain, and thus may contribute to reduction of trial-to-trial fluctuations in the SPR. Here we summarize the general principles of rod phototransduction, emphasizing recent advances in resolving the spatiotemporal dynamics of cGMP during the SPR.
Keywords: photoreceptor; phototransduction; rhodopsin; rod; vision.