Research conducted in our laboratory is dedicated to understanding how vision is performed on the molecular level. Our most mature direction addresses the function of rod and cone photoreceptors, which are sensory neurons responsible for the detection and primary processing of information entering the eye in the form of photons. Photoreceptors respond to capturing photons by generating electrical signals transmitted to the secondary neurons in the retina and, ultimately, to the brain. Our work is dedicated to uncovering the molecular mechanisms underlying three essential photoreceptor functions: their uniquely high light-sensitivity, their ability to rapidly recover from light excitation, and their capacity to modulate light-responses upon broad variations in the intensity of ambient illumination.
Our second direction is to elucidate the cellular processes responsible for building the light-sensitive organelle of photoreceptor cells, called the outer segment, and for populating this organelle with proteins conducting visual signaling. Of particular interest is the mechanism by which outer segments form their “disc” membrane stacks providing vast membrane surfaces for effective photon capture.
Finally, we are seeking connections between understanding the basic function of rods and cones and practical, translational approaches to ameliorate the retinal degeneration caused by mutations in critical photoreceptor-specific proteins. Most importantly, we explore the link between the balance of protein synthesis and degradation in photoreceptor cells (the “proteostasis”) and the status of their health.
Education and Training
- Lomonosov Moscow State Universty (Russia), B.S. 1981
- Lomonosov Moscow State Universty (Russia), Ph.D. 1987
Selected Grants and Awards
- Center Core Grant for Vision Research
- Repulsive mechanisms for spatial segregation of developing neural circuits
- The Role of Basal Bodies in Wnt Signaling
- Organization and Function of Cellular Structure
- Pharmacological Sciences Training Program
- How Do Muller Glia Control Circuit-Specific Retinal Synaptogenesis?
- The role of the ubiquitin-proteasome system in photoreceptor degeneration
- Molecular & cellular cues for circuit assembly in mouse retina
- RPB: 2014 Nelson Trust Award
- Coherent light scattering for early detection of Alzheimer's disease
- Identification of unique rod outer segment plasma membrane proteins
- Role of impaired protein degradation in photoreceptor degeneration
- Delivery of signaling and structural proteins to photoreceptor outer segment
- Developing a new therapeutic agent for retinal ciliopathies
- Molecular Genetics of BBS
- Understanding the function of PRCD, a small protein whose mutations cause blindness
- Understanding Photoreceptor Trafficking Pathways to the Outer Segment
- Modifiers of Retinal Phenotypes in Ciliopathies
- P30 - Center Core Grant for Vision Research: Administrative Supplement
- Coherent light scattering for early detection of retinal disease
- Cellular mechanism of targeting peripherin to the sensory cilium
- Protein Translocation and Photoreceptor Light Adaptation
- Ankyrin G in protein sorting between rod plasma membrane and photoreceptor discs
- Proteome Map of the Photoreceptor Cell