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EMBL-EBI_Structures_of_Christmas_2016_OPSIN

3D printout: the molecular structure of opsin

A protein that lets us see light: Opsin. In humans, opsin is in an internal cell membrane, arranged almost like a stack of pancakes with these proteins poised for photons to hit them. When a photon does hit, the helices rotate relative to each other, changing the shape of the “inside” of the protein. Other proteins sense this change and ultimately trigger the photoreceptor cell to send an electric signal to our neurons. This happens thousand of times per second across thousands of cells, and indeed is happening now as you read this.

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