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Neuron. 2014 May 21;82(4):781-8. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2014.03.022.

A role for melanopsin in alpha retinal ganglion cells and contrast detection.

Author information

1
Johns Hopkins University, Department of Biology, Baltimore, MD 21218, USA. Electronic address: tmschmidt@jhu.edu.
2
Department of Physiology and Biophysics, Weill Cornell Medical College, Burke Medical Research Institute, White Plains, NY 10605, USA.
3
National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.
4
University of Minnesota, Department of Neuroscience, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA.
5
Johns Hopkins University, Department of Biology, Baltimore, MD 21218, USA; Johns Hopkins University, Department of Neuroscience, Baltimore, MD 21218, USA.

Abstract

Distinct subclasses of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) mediate vision and nonimage-forming functions such as circadian photoentrainment. This distinction stems from studies that ablated melanopsin-expressing intrinsically photosensitive RGCs (ipRGCs) and showed deficits in nonimage-forming behaviors, but not image vision. However, we show that the ON alpha RGC, a conventional RGC type, is intrinsically photosensitive in mammals. In addition to their classical response to fast changes in contrast through rod/cone signaling, melanopsin expression allows ON alpha RGCs to signal prior light exposure and environmental luminance over long periods of time. Consistent with the high contrast sensitivity of ON alpha RGCs, mice lacking either melanopsin or ON alpha RGCs have behavioral deficits in contrast sensitivity. These findings indicate a surprising role for melanopsin and ipRGCs in vision.

PMID:
24853938
PMCID:
PMC4083763
DOI:
10.1016/j.neuron.2014.03.022
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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