Integrated Structural Biology

Principal Investigator: Humberto Fernandes, PhD

Research at the Integrated Structural Biology (ISB) Group aims to elucidate the mechanisms of vision, particularly proteins of the phototransduction pathway and the visual cycle, at an atomic and molecular level, using structural biology techniques and other complementary biophysics characterization methods.

The reception of light by the eye, via photon(s) captured by chromophore loaded opsins proteins (with 11-cis to all-trans-retinal photoisomerization), initiates both pathways. In the visual phototransduction, a series of complex reactions lead to the perception by the brain of the stimulus via a signal cascade that, ultimately, decrease the levels of intracellular cGMP, which is later replenished. A series of enzymatic reactions and transport across different cells restores the 11-cis-retinal from its all-trans form in the visual cycle. Thus, the photoreceptors immediately react to restore the opsins' state with the 11-cis retinal chromophore and cellular homeostasis, enabling it to receive a new stimulus.

Many of the proteins involved are associated with vision diseases and are themselves potential drug targets. Some, in addition, offer the possibility of being explored as targeted drug delivery vehicles. Our ultimate goal is to help develop therapeutics for the treatment of eye disorder(s) and help prevent or at least delay the onset of eye diseases.

ISB Address: Kasprzaka 44/52, 01-224 Warsaw, Poland
Group Leader:
Lab Coordinator:



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