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Retinal network adaptation to bright light requires tyrosinase


The visual system adjusts its sensitivity to a wide range of light intensities. We report here that mutation of the zebrafish sdy gene, which encodes tyrosinase, slows down the onset of adaptation to bright light. When fish larvae were challenged with periods of darkness during the day, the sdy mutants required nearly an hour to recover optokinetic behavior after return to bright light, whereas wild types recovered within minutes. This behavioral deficit was phenocopied in fully pigmented fish by inhibiting tyrosinase and thus does not depend on the absence of melanin pigment in sdy. Electroretinograms showed that the dark-adapted retinal network recovers sensitivity to a pulse of light more slowly in sdy mutants than in wild types. This failure is localized in the retinal neural network, postsynaptic to photoreceptors. We propose that retinal pigment epithelium (which normally expresses tyrosinase) secretes a modulatory factor, possibly L-DOPA, which regulates light adaptation in the retinal circuitry.

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Figure 1: Variability and dark-pulse sensitivity of the sdy OKR.
Figure 2: Molecular identification of sdy/tyrosinase.
Figure 3: PTU phenocopies the light-adaptation deficit of the sdy mutation.
Figure 4: Abnormal electrophysiological light responses of the sdy retina.
Figure 5: Recovery from a light flash is disrupted in the sdy retina.
Figure 6: Recovery of sensitivity in the light is slowed down as the duration of the adapting light increases.
Figure 7: Photoreceptors function normally in sdy mutants.
Figure 8: Dark and light adaptation are out of balance in sdy mutants.

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We thank J. Kay, A. Wehman, S. Taha, and M. Orger for comments on the manuscript and all members of our laboratory for discussions. We also thank A. Churchland and L. Gitlin for assistance in the initial identification of zebrafish tyrosinase. This study was supported by a NARSAD Young Investigator award and the UCSF Neuroscience training grant (P.P.-M.), a B.I.F. fellowship (T.R.), the Packard Foundation, the Sloan Foundation and the NIH (H.B.).

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Correspondence to Herwig Baier.

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Page-McCaw, P., Chung, S., Muto, A. et al. Retinal network adaptation to bright light requires tyrosinase. Nat Neurosci 7, 1329–1336 (2004).

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