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Third Publication in “Nature” in Three Years – Prof. Hui-Woog Choe 

국제교류부 (hqiof) 2011/11/30 15:14:00
Third Publication in “Nature” in Three Years – Prof. Hui-Woog Choe


CBNU Professor Accomplishes Challenging Feat


Chonbuk National University’s Chemistry Professor Hui-Woog Choe is receiving overdue attention from global academia for being the first to investigate the crystal structure of metarhodopsin II, an optical intermediate that is formed during the regeneration process of light receptors “rhodopsin.” The results of his research were published in a recent issue of one of the top tier academic journals in the world, Nature(DOI; 10.1038/nature09789). In 2008, Prof. Choe had already broken ground for researching the structure of rhodopsin without a chromophore known as opsin, and analyzing its activated state. His work was published twice in Nature and nearly two years later, he now has another publication demonstrating our university’s stature as a research institution.


Prof. Choe has published a total of five papers in Nature, starting with his first publication in 1991. He now has had three papers published in one of the world’s top tier academic journals over a span of three years, a feat that is challenging to any professor in the nation. Moreover, the paper published in 2008 maintains its academic influence till this day as researchers in related fields have cited his work nearly 300 times. This is clearly the yield of a world-class research institute.

Prof. Choe enlisted the assistance of several of his students in his recent publication, including first authors Yong Joo Kim(CBNU Chemistry Dept, Class of 1995; Doctorate program in Humboldt University, Germany)  and Jung Hee Park(CBNU Chemistry Dept, Class of 1992; Post-Doctorate program in Toronto University), both of whom were contributing authors for Prof. Choe’s previous publications. The contributing authors also included Prof. Hofmann from Humboldt University and Professor Ernst from Toronto University.

This recent publication is expected to shed light on the causes and treatment of various acquired and congenital illnesses in ophthalmology that cause blindness, such as Oguchi’s Disease, Stargardt’s Disease and autosomal recessive retinitis pigmentosa.


What Has Been Revealed?     


Metarhodopsin II, the enzyme that is responsible for sending visual signals, is one of many intermediates of a photoreceptor transmembrane protein that lies on the outer layer of visual cells called rhodopsin.

In other words, when light hits our eyes and reaches the photoreceptor protein rhodopsin in our retinas, rhodopsin is activates the visual signaling process. During this process, the visual signal goes through several intermediates with a lifespan ranging from 10/12 to 1/10000 of a second (Batho→Lumi→Meta I→Meta II). Prof. Choe’s research focuses on the Metarhodopsin II, the intermediate that plays a vital role in sending visual signals from light to the brain.

Because the lifespan of Metarhodopsin II is so short, much of the academic community failed and deemed it impossible to identify its 3-dimensional structure. Yet, Prof. Choe has shown us that consistent determination can make anything possible.



  1. Crystal structure of metarhodopsin II (NATURE)
  2. Crystal structure of the ligand-free G-protein-coupled receptor opsin (NATURE)
  3. Crystal structure of opsin in its G-protein-interacting conformation (NATURE)
  4. Transmembrane signaling by GPCRs: Insight from rhodopsin and opsin structures (NEUROPHARMACOLOGY)


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