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  • Writer's picturePaul


How do you get Pikachu on to a bus? You “poke him on”, of course.

Not that that joke has anything to do with the fact we’re going to discuss in this blog, but frankly I seize every opportunity I can to dust this old chestnut off. But when he’s not busy being poked onto buses, Pikachu apparently enjoys nothing more than expanding his interests in, er, the scientific field of protein studies...

In 2008, Shigeru Sato of the Osaka Bioscience Institute discovered a new photoreceptive protein in the eyeball that exhibited what he described as “lightning fast moves, and shocking electric effects.” So, given those attributes, it of course made perfect sense for Sato to name the protein after our good friend Pikachu. And thus the protein pikachurin was born.

Pikachu: Pre-bus poking incident (Pixabay)

I won’t go into too much detail on the specifics of how pikachurin works (mostly because I’m shockingly ignorant of all things science) but it’s essentially a protein in the eyes’ photoreceptor cells that helps to send signals to synapses, thereby allowing the brain to decode images. In fact, Sato himself wasn’t all that sure of the exact function of pikachurin when he identified it, but rightly figured that it was essential to the proper synapse function of the nerves in the eyeball—and a lack of it in the body could lead to muscular dystrophy of the eye, and eventually loss of sight.

So, Pikachu, we choose you. (Because we’d probably all be blind without you...)

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