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Vis Neurosci. 2005 Nov-Dec;22(6):893-903.

Cone and rod inputs to murine retinal ganglion cells: evidence of cone opsin specific channels.

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Department of Clinical Sciences, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala, Sweden.


To identify ultraviolet (UV) and middle- (M) wavelength-sensitive cone and rod signals in murine retinal ganglion cells, single ganglion cell responses were studied in anesthetized, light-adapted C57/BL6 mice with tungsten microelectrodes driven through the sclera and vitreous to the neural retina. One hundred fifty-four ganglion cells were examined in 43 retinas of 34 mice. The retina was stimulated with diffuse flashes and/or pulses of ultraviolet (360 nm) or green (520 nm) light in the presence and absence of a strong steady orange adapting light. Twelve ganglion cells were studied in the dark-adapted retina in order to identify the signals of rods. Three functionally different types of ganglion cells were found: (1) phasic responding cells (31%) with no spontaneous activity and large impulse amplitudes; (2) tonic responding cells (60%) with irregular, low frequency (5-10 Hz) spontaneous activity and smaller impulse amplitudes; and (3) metronome-like cells (9%) with regular, relatively high-frequency (20-40 Hz) spontaneous activity. A few cells (1%) had habituating responses. Every cell encountered was affected by diffuse stimulation. The more common two types were excited at either the ON or OFF or at both the ON and OFF phases of stimulation. Type III cells had weaker responses, sometimes only inhibited by turning off a light. In the light-adapted state, most cells received signals of the same polarity from UV- and M-cones but UV-cone inputs were usually more dominant, especially in ventral retina. A fraction of cells received signals from only UV- (18%) or only M- (3%) cones. In rare cases (2%) these cone inputs had an opposite polarity on the same cell. In the dark-adapted state, all cells were at least four or five logarithmic units more sensitive and more to green than ultraviolet light. The results indicate that co-expression of both UV-and M-cone opsins cannot be ubiquitous in murine retina. Some cones, especially UV cones, exist without the presence of any functional M-cone opsin. This must be the case to explain the presence of ganglion cells that receive inputs only from UV-cones and others that receive inputs of opposite polarity from UV- and M-cones. The results support the hypothesis that murine retina has the physiological capacity to relay signals to the brain that allow the sensing of chromatic contrast and color vision.

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