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Gordon Fain

Gordon Fain

Distinguished Professor

Office: A222B, the Jules Stein Eye Institute
Phone: (310) 206-4281


Gordon Fain got his BA at Stanford in Biology and PhD at Johns Hopkins in Biophysics. After postdocs at Harvard and the École Normale Supérieure in Paris, he came to UCLA in 1975 and remained for his entire career. A Gugenheim fellow, NIH MERIT scholar, and Fellow of AAAS, he retired from active service in 2017 but is still funded by the NIH and continues his research. When he retired, he moved with all his equipment and people into the laboratory of his former graduate student Alapakkam Sampath, who is Professor and Associate Director of the Jules Stein Eye Institute at UCLA. They share students and research personnel and offer a joint program in the physiology and biophysics of the retina.

Research Interests

A vertebrate photoreceptor uses a G-protein receptor (rhodopsin) and a G-protein cascade to produce the electrical response that signals a change in light intensity. Powerful new techniques have made it possible to understand the working of this cascade in extraordinary detail. The reason for this is that practically every protein involved in the cascade in a photoreceptor, from the pigment molecule rhodopsin to the G-protein and channels, but including also a large number of control proteins, are expressed only in the photoreceptors and nowhere else in the body. This makes it possible with genetic techniques to create mice in which these proteins have been knocked out, over or under expressed, or replaced with proteins of modified structure. We use electrical recording to study the effects of such genetic alterations on the light responses of mouse rods and cones, in order to understand the role of these proteins in the visual cascade. We are especially interested in modulatory enzymes and their function in light and dark adaptation. We also have a long-standing interest in mechanisms of photoreceptor degeneration in genetically inherited disease.


B.S., Biology, Stanford University 1968
Ph.D., Biophysics, Johns Hopkins University 1973

Selected Publications

Reingruber, J., N.T. Ingram, Griffis, K.G., and G.L. Fain. 2020. A kinetic analysis of mouse rod and cone photoreceptor responses. Journal of Physiology, in press.

Ellis, E.M., R. Frederiksen, A. Morshedian, G. L. Fain, and A.P. Sampath. Separate ON and OFF pathways in vertebrate vision first arose during the Cambrian. Current Biology, in press.

Ingram, N.T., A.P. Sampath, and G.L. Fain. 2020. Membrane conductances of mouse cone photoreceptors. Journal of General Physiology. Mar 2;152(3). PMID: 31986199. pii: e201912520. doi: 10.1085/jgp.201912520.

Fain, G.L. 2019. Sensory Transduction (second edition). Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Morshedian, A., J.J. Kaylor, S.Y. Ng, A. Tsan, R. Frederiksen, T. Xu, L. Yuan, A.P. Sampath, R.A. Radu, G.L. Fain, and G.H. Travis. 2019. Light-Driven Regeneration of Cone Visual Pigments through a Mechanism Involving RGR Opsin in Muller Glial Cells. Neuron. 102:1172-1183 e1175. PMID: 31056353. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2019.04.004.

Ingram, N.T., A.P. Sampath, and G.L. Fain. 2019. Voltage-clamp recordings of light responses from wild-type and mutant mouse cone photoreceptors. Journal of General Physiology. 151:1287-1299. PMID: 31562185. doi: 10.1085/jgp.201912419.

Wang, T., J. Reingruber, M.L. Woodruff, A. Majumder, A. Camarena, N.O. Artemyev, G.L. Fain, and J. Chen. 2018. The PDE6 mutation in the rd10 retinal degeneration mouse model causes protein mislocalization and instability and promotes cell death through increased ion influx. J Biol Chem. 293:15332-15346. PMID: 30126843. doi: 10.1074/jbc.RA118.004459

Fain G, Sampath AP, “Rod and cone interactions in the retina”, F1000Research, 7 : (2018) .

Morshedian A, Woodruff ML, Fain GL, “Role of recoverin in rod photoreceptor light adaptation”, The Journal of physiology, 596 (8): 1513-1526 (2018) .

Morshedian A, Fain GL, “Light adaptation and the evolution of vertebrate photoreceptors”, The Journal of physiology, 595 (14): 4947-4960 (2017) .

Kaylor JJ, Xu T, Ingram NT, Tsan A, Hakobyan H, Fain GL, Travis GH, “Blue light regenerates functional visual pigments in mammals through a retinyl-phospholipid intermediate”, Nature communications, 8 (1): 16- (2017) .

Morshedian A, Fain GL, “The evolution of rod photoreceptors”, Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological sciences, 372 (1717): (2017) .

Ingram NT, Sampath AP, Fain GL, “Why are rods more sensitive than cones?”, The Journal of physiology, 594 (19): 5415-26 (2016) .

Reingruber J, Holcman D, Fain GL, “How rods respond to single photons: Key adaptations of a G-protein cascade that enable vision at the physical limit of perception”, BioEssays : news and reviews in molecular, cellular and developmental biology, 37 (11): 1243-52 (2015) .