Brief Communication | Published:

Anatomy: Photoreceptive net in the mammalian retina

Nature volume 415, page 493 (31 January 2002) | Download Citation



We have discovered an expansive photoreceptive 'net' in the mouse inner retina, visualized by using an antiserum against melanopsin, a likely photopigment1,2. This immunoreactivity is evident in a subset of retinal ganglion cells that morphologically resemble those that project to the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), the site of the primary circadian pacemaker3,4. Our results indicate that this bilayered photoreceptive net is anatomically distinct from the rod and cone photoreceptors of the outer retina, and suggest that it may mediate non-visual photoreceptive tasks such as the regulation of circadian rhythms.

This mesh of cells may explain how some blind mice can still tell day from night.

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  1. Department of Anatomy, Physiology and Genetics, and the Circadian Research Center, Uniformed Services University, Bethesda, Maryland 20814, USA

    • Ignacio Provencio
    • , Mark D. Rollag
    •  & Ana Maria Castrucci


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Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Correspondence to Ignacio Provencio.

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