Photon capture and signalling by melanopsin retinal ganglion cells

Michael Tri H Do, Shin H. Kang, Tian Xue, Haining Zhong, Hsi Wen Liao, Dwight E. Bergles, King Wai Yau

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

169 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

A subset of retinal ganglion cells has recently been discovered to be intrinsically photosensitive, with melanopsin as the pigment. These cells project primarily to brain centres for non-image-forming visual functions such as the pupillary light reflex and circadian photoentrainment. How well they signal intrinsic light absorption to drive behaviour remains unclear. Here we report fundamental parameters governing their intrinsic light responses and associated spike generation. The membrane density of melanopsin is 10 4-fold lower than that of rod and cone pigments, resulting in a very low photon catch and a phototransducing role only in relatively bright light. Nonetheless, each captured photon elicits a large and extraordinarily prolonged response, with a unique shape among known photoreceptors. Notably, like rods, these cells are capable of signalling single-photon absorption. A flash causing a few hundred isomerized melanopsin molecules in a retina is sufficient for reaching threshold for the pupillary light reflex.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)281-287
Number of pages7
JournalNature
Volume457
Issue number7227
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 15 2009
Externally publishedYes

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Retinal Ganglion Cells
Photons
Pupillary Reflex
Light
Vertebrate Photoreceptor Cells
Retina
Membranes
melanopsin
Brain

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

Cite this

Do, M. T. H., Kang, S. H., Xue, T., Zhong, H., Liao, H. W., Bergles, D. E., & Yau, K. W. (2009). Photon capture and signalling by melanopsin retinal ganglion cells. Nature, 457(7227), 281-287. https://doi.org/10.1038/nature07682

Photon capture and signalling by melanopsin retinal ganglion cells. / Do, Michael Tri H; Kang, Shin H.; Xue, Tian; Zhong, Haining; Liao, Hsi Wen; Bergles, Dwight E.; Yau, King Wai.

In: Nature, Vol. 457, No. 7227, 15.01.2009, p. 281-287.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Do, MTH, Kang, SH, Xue, T, Zhong, H, Liao, HW, Bergles, DE & Yau, KW 2009, 'Photon capture and signalling by melanopsin retinal ganglion cells', Nature, vol. 457, no. 7227, pp. 281-287. https://doi.org/10.1038/nature07682
Do MTH, Kang SH, Xue T, Zhong H, Liao HW, Bergles DE et al. Photon capture and signalling by melanopsin retinal ganglion cells. Nature. 2009 Jan 15;457(7227):281-287. https://doi.org/10.1038/nature07682
Do, Michael Tri H ; Kang, Shin H. ; Xue, Tian ; Zhong, Haining ; Liao, Hsi Wen ; Bergles, Dwight E. ; Yau, King Wai. / Photon capture and signalling by melanopsin retinal ganglion cells. In: Nature. 2009 ; Vol. 457, No. 7227. pp. 281-287.
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