Ligand channel in pharmacologically stabilized rhodopsin

Research Highlight

A look at how we see

© Monica Garcia-Salamon/EyeEm/Getty

Research into molecules able to rescue degenerating vision is yielding insights into the protein structures that enable us to see.

Retinitis pigmentosa is a degenerative eye disease arising from the incorrect maturation of the retinal rod cell protein opsin and its resulting instability. Now, a Swiss team led by Roche scientists has used computational modeling and in vitro screening techniques to discover molecules, such as S-RS1, capable of ‘rescuing’ opsin; stabilizing and moving it to its correct location within rod cells. In doing so, the team identified a previously-unknown physical conformation of the protein which may facilitate its binding to the light-sensing molecule retinal. Retinal bound to opsin forms rhodopsin, a crucial component of human sight.

In elucidating opsin’s structure, and how S-RS1 binds and modifies the protein, this research helps to deepen our understanding of the molecular biology underpinning degenerative eye conditions and helps to shed light on potential treatments.

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  1. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 115, 3640–3645 (2018). doi: 10.1073/pnas.1718084115
Institutions Authors Share
F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd., Switzerland
Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI), Switzerland
Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH Zurich), Switzerland