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Running rhodopsins in reverse

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Published on Dec 17, 2012

A Harvard lab puts optogenetic light switches into reverse, throwing new light on electrical firing patterns in beating cardiac cells, embryos, and responding neurons

Your first flight into San Francisco International Airport can be unnerving, as your plane approaches at very low altitude, seemingly headed for a landing in the shallow southern reaches of San Francisco Bay. But if you keep your wits and look down from the plane window, you can see below acres of salt crystallization ponds filled with bright red, orange, yellow, or green water. The colors arise from micro-organisms in the salty ponds that churn out microbial rhodopsin proteins. The colors these proteins make have a molecular kinship with the parts of your retina that perceive them, for rhodopsin molecules in the eye are responsible for color vision in humans.

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