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eNeuro. 2019 Aug 6. pii: ENEURO.0022-19.2019. doi: 10.1523/ENEURO.0022-19.2019. [Epub ahead of print]

Transcriptomic Signatures of Postnatal and Adult Intrinsically Photosensitive Ganglion Cells.

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Molecular biology, Cellular biology, and Biochemistry (MCB) Program, Brown University, Providence, RI 02912
Department of Neuroscience, Brown University, Providence, RI 02912.
Department of Neuroscience, Brown University, Providence, RI 02912


Intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells (ipRGCs) are rare mammalian photoreceptors essential for non-image-forming vision functions, such as circadian photoentrainment and the pupillary light reflex. They comprise multiple subtypes distinguishable by morphology, physiology, projections, and levels of expression of melanopsin (Opn4), their photopigment. The molecular programs that distinguish ipRGCs from other ganglion cells and ipRGC subtypes from one another remain elusive. Here, we present comprehensive gene expression profiles of early postnatal and adult mouse ipRGCs purified from two lines of reporter mice that mark different sets of ipRGC subtypes. We find dozens of novel genes highly enriched in ipRGCs. We reveal that Rasgrp1 and Tbx20 are selectively expressed in subsets of ipRGCs, though these molecularly defined groups imperfectly match established ipRGC subtypes. We demonstrate that the ipRGCs regulating circadian photoentrainment are diverse at the molecular level. Our findings reveal unexpected complexity in gene expression patterns across mammalian ipRGC subtypes.Significance statement A comprehensive transcriptomic analysis has identified dozens of genes differentially expressed in intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells, including some linked to signaling, gene regulation, and melanopsin phototransduction.


cell type; circadian; intrinsically photosensitive; retinal ganglion; rna-seq; vision

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Conflict of interest statement

Authors report no conflict of interest.

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