Retinitis pigmentosa is a group of retinal degenerative diseases, within the broad family of hereditary retinopathies, for which there is no cure at present. Mutations in different genes coding for proteins related to the metabolism of photoreceptor cells, and to the visual phototransduction cascade, are the cause of this disease. Rhodopsin, the photoreceptor protein responsible for light absorption-and key in the first stages of vision - is one of the most studied molecules of the retina. Mutations in the opsin gene account for about 25% of all cases of autosomal dominant retinitis pigmentosa. Recent crystallization of this receptor in its inactive dark state has revealed new structural details yielding further insights into the intra and intermolecular mechanisms in which the protein is involved as a result of its activation. Furthermore, the in vitro study of recombinant rhodopsins carrying mutations previously found in retinitis pigmentosa patients (by means of spectroscopic and functional techniques) has shed new light on the structural requirements for its correct function, as well as the molecular defects underlying the mechanism of photoreceptor cell death. In this study, the main findings of the recent investigations carried out in this field are presented. The relevant information obtained at the molecular level is bound to facilitate our understanding of the molecular processes that will allow suitable therapies for different retinal degenerative diseases, particularly retinitis pigmentosa, to be proposed.
|Publication status||Published - 28 Jun 2003|
- Retinal degeneration
- Retinitis pigmentosa
- Three-dimensional structure
- Visual phototransduction