Molecular determinants of response kinetics of mouse M1 intrinsically-photosensitive retinal ganglion cells

Yanghui Sheng, Lujing Chen, Xiaozhi Ren, Zheng Jiang, King Wai Yau

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Intrinsically-photosensitive retinal ganglion cells (ipRGCs) are non-rod/non-cone retinal photoreceptors expressing the visual pigment, melanopsin, to detect ambient irradiance for various non-image-forming visual functions. The M1-subtype, amongst the best studied, mediates primarily circadian photoentrainment and pupillary light reflex. Their intrinsic light responses are more prolonged than those of rods and cones even at the single-photon level, in accordance with the typically slower time course of non-image-forming vision. The short (OPN4S) and long (OPN4L) alternatively-spliced forms of melanopsin proteins are both present in M1-ipRGCs, but their functional difference is unclear. We have examined this point by genetically removing the Opn4 gene (Opn4−/−) in mouse and re-expressing either OPN4S or OPN4L singly in Opn4−/− mice by using adeno-associated virus, but found no obvious difference in their intrinsic dim-flash responses. Previous studies have indicated that two dominant slow steps in M1-ipRGC phototransduction dictate these cells’ intrinsic dim-flash-response kinetics, with time constants (τ1 and τ2) at room temperature of ~ 2 s and ~ 20 s, respectively. Here we found that melanopsin inactivation by phosphorylation or by β-arrestins may not be one of these two steps, because their genetic disruptions did not prolong the two time constants or affect the response waveform. Disruption of GAP (GTPase-Activating-Protein) activity on the effector enzyme, PLCβ4, in M1-ipRGC phototransduction to slow down G-protein deactivation also did not prolong the response decay, but caused its rising phase to become slightly sigmoidal by giving rise to a third time constant, τ3, of ~ 2 s (room temperature). This last observation suggests that GAP-mediated G-protein deactivation does partake in the flash-response termination, although normally with a time constant too short to be visible in the response waveform.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number23424
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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