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      Physiological Features of the S- and M-cone Photoreceptors of Wild-type Mice from Single-cell Recordings


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          Cone cells constitute only 3% of the photoreceptors of the wild-type (WT) mouse. While mouse rods have been thoroughly investigated with suction pipette recordings of their outer segment membrane currents, to date no recordings from WT cones have been published, likely because of the rarity of cones and the fragility of their outer segments. Recently, we characterized the photoreceptors of Nrl / mice, using suction pipette recordings from their “inner segments” (perinuclear region), and found them to be cones. Here we report the use of this same method to record for the first time the responses of single cones of WT mice, and of mice lacking the α-subunit of the G-protein transducin ( G tα /), a loss that renders them functionally rodless. Most cones were found to functionally co-express both S- (λ max = 360 nm) and M- (λ max = 508 nm) cone opsins and to be maximally sensitive at 360 nm (“S-cones”); nonetheless, all cones from the dorsal retina were found to be maximally sensitive at 508 nm (“M-cones”). The dim-flash response kinetics and absolute sensitivity of S- and M-cones were very similar and not dependent on which of the coexpressed cone opsins drove transduction; the time to peak of the dim-flash response was ∼70 ms, and ∼0.2% of the circulating current was suppressed per photoisomerization. Amplification in WT cones ( A ∼4 s −2) was found to be about twofold lower than in rods ( A ∼8 s −2). Mouse M-cones maintained their circulating current at very nearly the dark adapted level even when >90% of their M-opsin was bleached. S-cones were less tolerant to bleached S-opsin than M-cones to bleached M-opsin, but still far more tolerant than mouse rods to bleached rhodopsin, which exhibit persistent suppression of nearly 50% of their circulating current following a 20% bleach. Thus, the three types of mouse opsin appear distinctive in the degree to which their bleached, unregenerated opsins generate “dark light.”

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          Most cited references 90

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          In search of the visual pigment template.

          Absorbance spectra were recorded by microspectrophotometry from 39 different rod and cone types representing amphibians. reptiles, and fishes, with A1- or A2-based visual pigments and lambdamax ranging from 357 to 620 nm. The purpose was to investigate accuracy limits of putative universal templates for visual pigment absorbance spectra, and if possible to amend the templates to overcome the limitations. It was found that (1) the absorbance spectrum of frog rhodopsin extract very precisely parallels that of rod outer segments from the same individual, with only a slight hypsochromic shift in lambdamax, hence templates based on extracts are valid for absorbance in situ: (2) a template based on the bovine rhodopsin extract data of Partridge and De Grip (1991) describes the absorbance of amphibian rod outer segments excellently, contrary to recent electrophysiological results; (3) the lambdamax/lambda invariance of spectral shape fails for A1 pigments with small lambdamax and for A2 pigments with large lambdamax, but the deviations are systematic and can be readily incorporated into, for example, the Lamb (1995) template. We thus propose modified templates for the main "alpha-band" of A1 and A2 pigments and show that these describe both absorbance and spectral sensitivities of photoreceptors over the whole range of lambdamax. Subtraction of the alpha-band from the full absorbance spectrum leaves a "beta-band" described by a lambdamax-dependent Gaussian. We conclude that the idea of universal templates (one for A1- and one for A2-based visual pigments) remains valid and useful at the present level of accuracy of data on photoreceptor absorbance and sensitivity. The sum of our expressions for the alpha- and beta-band gives a good description for visual pigment spectra with lambdamax > 350 nm.
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            The murine cone photoreceptor: a single cone type expresses both S and M opsins with retinal spatial patterning.

            Mice express S and M opsins that form visual pigments for the detection of light and visual signaling in cones. Here, we show that S opsin transcription is higher than that of M opsin, which supports ultraviolet (UV) sensitivity greater than midwavelength sensitivity. Surprisingly, most cones coexpress both S and M opsins in a common cone cell type throughout the retina. All cones express M opsin, but the levels are graded from dorsal to ventral. The levels of S opsin are relatively constant. However, in the far dorsal retina, S opsin is repressed stochastically, such that some cones express M opsin only. These observations indicate that two different mechanisms control M and S opsin expression. We suggest that a common cone type is patterned across the retinal surface to produce phenotypic cone subtypes.
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              A quantitative account of the activation steps involved in phototransduction in amphibian photoreceptors.

              1. We have undertaken a theoretical analysis of the steps contributing to the phototransduction cascade in vertebrate photoreceptors. We have explicitly considered only the activation steps, i.e. we have not dealt with the inactivation reactions. 2. From the theoretical analysis we conclude that a single photoisomerization leads to activation of the phosphodiesterase (PDE) with a time course which approximates a delayed ramp; the delay is contributed by several short first-order delay stages. 3. We derive a method for extracting the time course of PDE activation from the measured electrical response, and we apply this method to recordings of the photoresponse from salamander rods. The results confirm the prediction that the time course of PDE activation is a delayed ramp, with slope proportional to light intensity; the initial delay is about 10-20 ms. 4. We derive approximate analytical solutions for the electrical response of the photoreceptor to light, both for bright flashes (isotropic conditions) and for single photons (involving longitudinal diffusion of cyclic GMP in the outer segment). The response to a brief flash is predicted to follow a delayed Gaussian function of time, i.e. after an initial short delay the response should begin rising in proportion to t2. Further, the response-intensity relation is predicted to obey an exponential saturation. 5. These predictions are compared with experiment, and it is shown that the rising phase of the flash response is accurately described over a very wide range of intensities. We conclude that the model provides a comprehensive description of the activation steps of phototransduction at a molecular level.

                Author and article information

                J Gen Physiol
                The Journal of General Physiology
                The Rockefeller University Press
                April 2006
                : 127
                : 4
                : 359-374
                [1 ]F.M. Kirby Center for Molecular Ophthalmology, Department of Ophthalmology, School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104
                [2 ]Chemyakin and Ovchinnikov Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry, Moscow, Russia
                [3 ]Department of Medicine, Department of Ophthalmology, Department of Genetics, Department of Neuroscience, and Program in Cell, Molecular, and Developmental Biology, Tufts-New England Medical Centers, Boston, MA 02111
                Author notes

                Correspondence to Edward N. Pugh Jr.: pugh@ 123456mail.med.upenn.edu

                Copyright © 2006, The Rockefeller University Press

                Anatomy & Physiology


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