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Diminished Pupillary Light Reflex at High Irradiances in Melanopsin-Knockout Mice

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Science  10 Jan 2003:
Vol. 299, Issue 5604, pp. 245-247
DOI: 10.1126/science.1077293

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Abstract

In the mammalian retina, a small subset of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) are intrinsically photosensitive, express the opsin-like protein melanopsin, and project to brain nuclei involved in non–image-forming visual functions such as pupillary light reflex and circadian photoentrainment. We report that in mice with the melanopsin gene ablated, RGCs retrograde-labeled from the suprachiasmatic nuclei were no longer intrinsically photosensitive, although their number, morphology, and projections were unchanged. These animals showed a pupillary light reflex indistinguishable from that of the wild type at low irradiances, but at high irradiances the reflex was incomplete, a pattern that suggests that the melanopsin-associated system and the classical rod/cone system are complementary in function.

  • * These authors contributed equally to this work.

  • To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: r.j.lucas{at}ic.ac.uk, kwyau{at}mail.jhmi.edu

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