Rhodopsin molecule

Rhodopsin molecule

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Credit: LAGUNA DESIGN/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Molecular model of the rhodopsin complex before it has absorbed light. Rhodopsin (also called visual purple) is a pigment found in the rod photoreceptor cells in the retina of the eye, where it absorbs light falling on the retina. The rhodopsin complex consists of the protein opsin, bound to a non-protein component, retinal. The retinal molecule absorbs light, which causes it to change shape and separate from the opsin. This initiates the transmission of nerve impulses to the brain, leading to the sensation of vision. The great sensitivity of rhodopsin is what allows vision in dim light.

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