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PLoS Biol. 2019 Mar 1;17(3):e2006211. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.2006211. eCollection 2019 Mar.

Rods contribute to the light-induced phase shift of the retinal clock in mammals.

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Univ Lyon, Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1, Inserm, Stem Cell and Brain Research Institute, Bron, France.
Visual Neurosciences Research Group, Singapore Eye Research Institute, Singapore.
Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences Program, Duke-NUS Medical School, Singapore.
CNRS UPR3212, Institut des Neurosciences Cellulaires et Intégratives, Université de Strasbourg, Strasbourg, France.


While rods, cones, and intrinsically photosensitive melanopsin-containing ganglion cells (ipRGCs) all drive light entrainment of the master circadian pacemaker of the suprachiasmatic nucleus, recent studies have proposed that entrainment of the mouse retinal clock is exclusively mediated by a UV-sensitive photopigment, neuropsin (OPN5). Here, we report that the retinal circadian clock can be phase shifted by short duration and relatively low-irradiance monochromatic light in the visible part of the spectrum, up to 520 nm. Phase shifts exhibit a classical photon dose-response curve. Comparing the response of mouse models that specifically lack middle-wavelength (MW) cones, melanopsin, and/or rods, we found that only the absence of rods prevented light-induced phase shifts of the retinal clock, whereas light-induced phase shifts of locomotor activity are normal. In a "rod-only" mouse model, phase shifting response of the retinal clock to light is conserved. At shorter UV wavelengths, our results also reveal additional recruitment of short-wavelength (SW) cones and/or OPN5. These findings suggest a primary role of rod photoreceptors in the light response of the retinal clock in mammals.

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Conflict of interest statement

The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

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