Characterization of an ocular photopigment capable of driving pupillary constriction in mice


This work demonstrates that transgenic mice lacking both rod and cone photoreceptors (rd/rd cl) retain a pupillary light reflex (PLR) that does not rely on local iris photoreceptors. These data, combined with previous reports that rodless and coneless mice show circadian and pineal responses to light, suggest that multiple non-image-forming light responses use non-rod, non-cone ocular photoreceptors in mice. An action spectrum for the PLR in rd/rd cl mice demonstrates that over the range 420–625 nm, this response is driven by a single opsin/vitamin A-based photopigment with peak sensitivity around 479 nm (opsin photopigment/OP479). These data represent the first functional characterization of a non-rod, non-cone photoreceptive system in the mammalian CNS.

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Figure 1: Pupillary light reflexes in wild-type and rd/rd cl mice.
Figure 2: Central pathways mediate the PLR in rd/rd cl mice.
Figure 3: Irradiance–response curves to 506 nm light.
Figure 4: Spectral sensitivity of the PLR in wild-type and rd/rd cl mice.
Figure 5: Photopigments in the murine eye.


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This work was supported by the BBSRC. The authors thank N. Mrosovsky for comments on an earlier version of this manuscript and S. Thompson and M. Semo for technical assistance.

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Correspondence to Robert J. Lucas.

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Lucas, R., Douglas, R. & Foster, R. Characterization of an ocular photopigment capable of driving pupillary constriction in mice. Nat Neurosci 4, 621–626 (2001).

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