Graduate Training in Neuroscience
University of Washington
Peter B. Detwiler
Professor, Department of Physiology & Biophysics
Signal transduction in retinal photoreceptors
Our laboratory is interested in how cells detect and respond to external signals. In many cases this involves a reaction cascade that is triggered by the activation of a specific receptor on the cell surface which stimulates an intracellular effector enzyme via a G protein. G protein-coupled signal transduction pathways are present in all cell types and are used to detect a staggering variety of extracellular signals. We study this process in retinal photoreceptors which use a G protein activated enzyme cascade to convert light into the electrical signal that ultimately leads to a visual perception. By using a combination of electrophysiological, optical and biochemical techniques we hope to obtain a detailed understanding of the molecular events that underlie the activation, inactivation and adaptation of the visual phototransduction cascade. We expect this information will be relevant to many other kinds of less well studied G protein-coupled signal transduction pathways.