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Computer models help decode cells that sense light without seeing

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Posted February 10, 2014
Computer models help decode cells that sense light without seeing
Researchers have found that the melanopsin pigment in the eye is potentially more sensitive to light than its more famous counterpart, rhodopsin, the pigment that allows for night vision. In this illustration, computer models of human melanopsin (violet) and squid rhodopsin (green) are superimposed. Similar to visual pigments, melanopsin provides the interface between the physical world, responsible for light detection, and the physiological world of brain signaling. Melanopsin mediates a process termed “photoentrainment,” which takes in light to set the clock of “circadian rhythms.” These rhythms (often termed the body clock) represent the biological implementation of the 24-hour day/night and optimize the corresponding physiology. Credit: Olivucci/BGSU
Researchers have found that the melanopsin pigment in the eye is potentially more sensitive to light than its more famous counterpart, rhodopsin, the pigment that allows for night vision.

For more than two years, the staff of the Laboratory for Computational Photochemistry and Photobiology (LCPP) at Ohio’s Bowling Green State University (BGSU), have been investigating melanopsin, a retina pigment capable of sensing light changes in the environment, informing the nervous system and synchronizing it with the day/night rhythm. Most of the study’s complex computations were carried out on powerful supercomputer clusters at the Ohio Supercomputer Center (OSC).

Read more at: MedicalXpress

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