Integrated Structural Biology

Principal Investigator: Humberto Fernandes, PhD

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

The reception of light by the eye, via photon(s) captured by chromophore-loaded opsin proteins (with 11-cis to all-trans-retinal photoisomerization), initiates both phototransduction and the visual cycle. In phototransduction, a series of complex reactions lead to the perception by the brain of the visual stimulus via a signal cascade that, ultimately, decreases the levels of intracellular cGMP, which is later replenished. In the visual cycle, a series of enzymatic reactions and transport processes across different cells restores the 11-cis-retinal from its all-trans form. Thus, the photoreceptors immediately follow through to restore cellular homeostasis and the responsive state of the opsins with their adducted 11-cis retinal chromophores, poised for a new stimulus.

Many of the proteins involved are implicated in vision diseases, and thus 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: to be updated soon


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