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Membrane Recycling Sustains Vision

A research by the Babraham Institute, Cambridge, UK, and the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS), Bengaluru, says that the balancing act in eye’s cell membranes is essential for sustaining vision.

Our eyes have millions of photoreceptors which capture light to make pictures of our surroundings. The surface membranes of these cells contain rhodopsin, a light-detecting protein. These absorb light to activate nerve cells to generate the sight sensation.

Once activated by light, the rhodopsin molecules must be ‘fixed’ in order to sense light again. This commences with a process known as endocytosis, in which parts of a cell’s surface membranes are pinched-off into structures called endosomes. Eventually, the rhodopsin in endosomes is recycled back to the cell surface for further light detection events.

"You can think of endocytosis and membrane recycling as two arms of the membrane turnover process. There needs to be a balance between the two, or else the size of the membrane will shrink - a condition that could lead to retinal degeneration in the eyes" Raghu Padinjat, NCBS, said. 
These results are expected to widen our understanding of the membrane turnover process which occurs almost in every cell of our body.  

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