V. Alexiades - UTK and ORNL

Phototransduction in Retinal Rod Cells

Harihar Khanal (Embry-Riddle) ,   Giovanni Caruso (Rome) ,
Emmanuele DiBenedetto (Vanderbilt) ,   Heidi Hamm (Vanderbilt, Pharmacology)

Visual transduction is the process by which light, captured by photopigment inside retinal cells, generates an electrical response on the plasma membrane of the cell. It involves interaction and diffusion of substances (so called second messengers) in the cell. A spectacular site about the physiology of the eye is WebVsion. Here is a spectacular micrograph of a fruitfly retina.

We are developing computational models of the protein cascade on the discs, interactions with and diffusive transport of the two primary second messengers, cGMP and Ca2+, in the cytosol, and interactions at the outer membrane generating an electrical signal, in response to photons hitting any of the ~1000 "discs" inside a typical vertebrate rod cell.

The numerical models, derived via finite volume discretization, are parallelized via domain decomposition for distributed computation on clusters or networked workstations.

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