TCB Seminar

“Light activation of rhodopsin from picoseconds to microseconds”

Professor Alan Grossfield
Biochemistry and Biophysics
University of Rochester Medical Center
Rochester, NY

Monday, May 20, 2019
3:00 pm
3269 Beckman Institute


The central question of biophysics is how we get from physics – the interactions between molecules – to biological function. We will use rhodopsin, the mammalian dim-light receptor, as an example to explore this question via computer simulations. While we have a significant amount of structural information about rhodopsin, including crystal structures of both the inactive and active forms, the atomic-level fluctuations that control function are not well-understood. We have used molecular dynamics simulations to characterize the interplay between rhodopsin and the lipid membrane surrounding it as a means to understand the physics controlling the prevalence of the active and inactive states. More recently, we have collaborated with groups performing time-resolved X-ray scattering experiments using X-ray free electron lasers to characterize the early events following photon absorption. We find that structural diversity in the dark (inactive) state of the protein leads to a complex relaxation in the nanoseconds immediately following photon absorption. The same complexities are seen in the longer- timescale models of the inactive and active states.