UNMC Research Determines Protein's Role in Sight

The three lead researchers for UNMC were (left-right) Channabasavaiah (Guru) Gurumurthy, Ph.D., Justin Grassmeyer, Ph.D., and Wallace Thoreson, Ph.D. (Photo courtesy UNMC.)
July 15, 2019 - 4:00pm

Understanding how our eyes process signals got a boost from research announced Monday at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

UNMC researchers successfully eliminated a sensory protein (Syt1) from a lab mouse, helping to determine the protein’s role in how we see.

Wallace Thoreson, professor and lead the researcher on the project, said the UNMC researchers wanted to figure out how rods and cones transmit visual signals, as the process is unknown.

“The value of this is sort of some key insights into fundamental aspects of neuro transmission," Thoreson said, "but also some fundamental aspects about circuitry – retinal circuitry and how the retina is wired together.”

The research found that without the protein, mice can't start the signaling process. Thoreson said a new CRISPR gene technique, developed by Channabasavaiah Gurumurthy at UNMC, helped remove the protein from just the retina, which wasn't possible before. 

Thoreson hopes this research will open the door for studies of genetic diseases in the eye and other parts of the body.




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