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Melanopsin in cells of origin of the retinohypothalamic tract

Nature Neuroscience volume 4, page 1165 (2001) | Download Citation



All known eukaryotic organisms exhibit physiological and behavioral rhythms termed circadian rhythms that cycle with a near-24-hour period; in mammals, light is the most potent stimulus for entraining endogenous rhythms to the daily light cycle. Photic information is transmitted via the retinohypothalamic tract (RHT) to the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) in the hypothalamus, where circadian rhythms are generated, but the retinal photopigment that mediates circadian entrainment has remained elusive. Here we show that most retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) that project to the SCN express the photopigment melanopsin.

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This work was supported by USPHS grants HL60292, MH62589 and HL07901.

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  1. Department of Neurology and Program in Neuroscience, Harvard Medical School, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts 02215, USA

    • Joshua J. Gooley
    • , Jun Lu
    • , Thomas C. Chou
    • , Thomas E. Scammell
    •  & Clifford B. Saper


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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Correspondence to Clifford B. Saper.

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