The human eye is a complicated organ, with many different parts, each of which have specific jobs to do. Parts of the eye detect light and send that information to various other parts of the eye. Eventually, a signal is sent to the brain itself, which is what allows people to see. If any part of this chain isn’t working properly, a person’s sight will be impaired.
The retina is an important part of the eye. Its job is to detect light, and then pass that information on to different cells in the eye, and eventually to the brain. There are diseases known as Retinal Degenerative diseases, when the retina of the eye becomes damaged and stops functioning. Eyes affected with this disease have dying photoreceptor cells, which means that the eye cannot get the light it needs to function properly. There are no real treatments for these kinds of diseases yet, and so people who have them generally lose their sight. Around one in 3,000 people are affected by this kind of disease, making it very important to find a treatment for these retinal conditions.
Chop2-GFP is a protein that can be put into the eye in order to make it see light, even if certain parts of the eye have been damaged.
A photoreceptor is a specialized cell in the eye which can receive or sense light. These cells send signals to ganglion cells, which are also located in the eye. Each ganglion cell has over one hundred million photoreceptor cells sending it information. There are also rods and cones, which also can send information to the ganglion cells.
This is a complicated process which involves several different parts of the body. The first part of this process is when light enters the eye. What happens at this point?
Your photoreceptors in your eye are what first detect light. They then send the light to retinal ganglion cells, which either turn on or off, depending on whether or not they detect light. When this change happens, a signal is sent to a different cell, which also changes, which is known as isomerization. This signal then travels through nerve channels to the brain, which determines what you “see” in the end result.
The first step for the experimenters was to be able to see the expression and location of Chop2 proteins. In order to do so, they replaced part of the Chop2 channel with GFP, which would make the Chop2 glow, as GFP is a gene that fireflies have. In order to figure out what the Chop2 channels do, they injected a viral vector into the eyes of one-day-old rats and mice, and looked for the results three weeks later.
Three to four weeks after a viral vector was injected into the intravitreal space of postnatal rats and mice, a bright GFP fluorescence was observed in the retinal neurons of the injected eyes especially the ON and OFF ganglion cells. The GFP was predominantly in the plasma membrane. This works for up to 12 months after injection.
Because they found that the Chop2 was expressed by the glowing of the GFP put into...