March 06, 2020
The eyes of vertebrates are remarkable, in particular the retina. The retina is a layer of tissue at the back of the eyeball that receives incoming light and converts it into a message that can be sent to the brain. Amazingly the light must pass through the retina which is five layers of neural tissue, before it can reach the two types of photoreceptors, the rods and cones.
The rod photoreceptors were of particular interest to researchers in Germany led by the Max Planck Institute. The team were interested in learning more about how the physical arrangement of DNA within those rod cells impacted the ability of nocturnal animals to see in low light conditions. They studied the changes in the night vision of mice in their first month of life. The team were able to determine that the night vision on the mice improved in this first month of life as the DNA within the nucleus of the rod cells become more compact.
This compact arrangement of the DNA resulted in the 2-fold improvement in the transparency of the retina, which in turn improved the ability of the mice to see in low light condition. The discovery of this super compact DNA arrangement could be useful beyond night vision, if scientists could manipulate DNA in other cell types to rearrange in the same way, thus making cells more transparent, it could be a breakthrough for biological microscopy.
Source: Phys Org
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