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J Physiol. 1990 Aug;427:681-713.

Visual transduction in cones of the monkey Macaca fascicularis.

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Department of Neurobiology, Stanford Medical School, CA 94305.

Erratum in

  • J Physiol (Lond) 1990 Dec;431:757.


1. Visual transduction in macaque cones was studied by measuring the membrane current of single outer segments projecting from small pieces of retina. 2. The response to a brief flash of light was diphasic and resembled the output of a bandpass filter with a peak frequency near 5 Hz. After the initial reduction in dark current there was a rebound increase which resulted from an increase in the number of open light-sensitive channels. The response to a step of light consisted of a prominent initial peak followed by a steady phase of smaller amplitude. 3. Responses to dim light were linear and time-invariant, suggesting that responses to single photons were linearly additive. From the flash sensitivity and the effective collecting area the peak amplitude of the single photon response was estimated as about 30 fA. 4. With flashes of increasing strength the photocurrent amplitude usually saturated along a curve that was gentler than an exponential but steeper than a Michaelis relation. The response reached the half-saturating amplitude at roughly 650 photoisomerizations. 5. The response-intensity relation was flatter in the steady state than shortly after a light step was turned on, indicating that bright light desensitized the transduction with a delay. This desensitization was not due to a reduction in pigment content. In the steady state, a background of intensity I lowered the sensitivity to a weak incremental test flash by a factor 1/(1 + I/IO), where IO was about 2.6 x 10(4) photoisomerizations s-1, or about 3.3 log trolands for the red- and green-sensitive cones. 6. Bleaching exposures produced permanent reductions in flash sensitivity but had little effect on the kinetics or saturating amplitude of subsequent flash responses. The sensitivity reductions were consistent with the expected reductions in visual pigment content and gave photosensitivities of about 8 x 10(-9) microns2 (free solution value) for the red- and green-sensitive pigments. During a steady bleaching exposure the final exponential decline of the photocurrent had a rate constant given by the product of the light intensity and the photosensitivity. 7. In some cells it was possible to measure a light-induced increase in current noise. The power spectrum of the noise resembled the spectrum of the dim flash response and the magnitude of the noise was consistent with a single photon response roughly 20 fA in size. 8. The membrane current recorded in darkness was noisy, with a variance near 0.12 pA2 in the band 0-20 Hz.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS).

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