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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008 Oct 14;105(41):16009-14. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0806114105. Epub 2008 Oct 3.

Restoration of visual function in retinal degeneration mice by ectopic expression of melanopsin.

Author information

1
Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Thier 429, 50 Blossom Street, Boston, MA 02114, USA.

Abstract

The rod and cone cells of the mammalian retina are the principal photoreceptors for image-forming vision. They transmit information by means of a chain of intermediate cells to the retinal ganglion cells, which in turn send signals from the retina to the brain. Loss of photoreceptor cells, as happens in a number of human diseases, leads to irreversible blindness. In a mouse model (rd/rd) of photoreceptor degeneration, we used a viral vector to express in a large number of retinal ganglion cells the light sensitive protein melanopsin, normally present in only a specialized subset of the cells. Whole-cell patch-clamp recording showed photoresponses in these cells even after degeneration of the photoreceptors and additional pharmacological or Cd(2+) block of synaptic function. Interestingly, similar responses were observed across a wide variety of diverse types of ganglion cell of the retina. The newly melanopsin-expressing ganglion cells provided an enhancement of visual function in rd/rd mice: the pupillary light reflex (PLR) returned almost to normal; the mice showed behavioral avoidance of light in an open-field test, and they could discriminate a light stimulus from a dark one in a two-choice visual discrimination alley. Recovery of the PLR was stable for at least 11 months. It has recently been shown that ectopic retinal expression of a light sensitive bacterial protein, channelrhodopsin-2, can restore neuronal responsiveness and simple visual abilities in rd/rd mice. For therapy in human photodegenerations, channelrhodopsin-2 and melanopsin have different advantages and disadvantages; both proteins (or modifications of them) should be candidates.

PMID:
18836071
PMCID:
PMC2572922
DOI:
10.1073/pnas.0806114105
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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