Upper limit on translational diffusion of visual pigment in intact unfixed barnacle photoreceptors

Translational diffusion of pigment molecules in the disc membranes of amphibian rod outer segments is in the range of 10 Μ/10 s. Recently, Goldsmith and Wehner set an upper limit of 10 Μ/20 min to the diffusion in isolated formaldehyde-fixed rhabdoms of crayfish. We have now used the early receptor potential (ERP) to study the diffusion in intact, unfixed barnacle photoreceptors. The ERP from a cell fully adapted to blue light (most of the pigment in the rhodopsin state) was changed by 8–22% of its maximum change when the pigment in a 30 Μm spot was (almost) completely shifted to the metarhodopsin state by red laser adaptation. Further red illumination of the same spot 30 min later produced only a limited further change in the ERP (attributable to light scatter), showing that R had not migrated into the spot. It is concluded that the visual pigment diffuses by less than 30 Μ/30 min.

Authors: Almagor, E., P. Hillman, and B. Minke
Year of publication: 1979
Journal: Biophysics of structure and mechanism, Volume 5, Issue 2–3, pp 243–248

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