Areas of Interest
Our vision begins when light is captured by the rod and cone shaped outer segment of photoreceptor cells in the retina. The outer segment organelle is a modified primary cilium with a unique architecture: hundreds of tightly stacked disc membranes enclosed by a plasma membrane. This arrangement maximizes light absorption by GPCR photopigments and places signaling proteins in close proximity. One byproduct of light absorption is photo-oxidative damage, which photoreceptors resolve by continuously regenerating the outer segment. However, this process requires constant delivery of a tremendous amount of protein and lipid material from the cell body to this organelle. Defects in outer segment trafficking are some of the most common causes of blindness in humans. My laboratory combines the quantitative precision of biochemical and genetic approaches to understand how the photoreceptor outer segment is built and maintained.