Melanopsin-Positive Intrinsically Photosensitive Retinal Ganglion Cells: From Form to Function

Department of Neuroscience, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55455, USA.
The Journal of Neuroscience : The Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience (Impact Factor: 6.75). 11/2011; 31(45):16094-101. DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4132-11.2011
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Melanopsin imparts an intrinsic photosensitivity to a subclass of retinal ganglion cells (ipRGCs). Generally thought of as irradiance detectors, ipRGCs target numerous brain regions involved in non-image-forming vision. ipRGCs integrate their intrinsic, melanopsin-mediated light information with rod/cone signals relayed via synaptic connections to influence light-dependent behaviors. Early observations indicated diversity among these cells and recently several specific subtypes have been identified. These subtypes differ in morphological and physiological form, controlling separate functions that range from biological rhythm via circadian photoentrainment, to protective behavioral responses including pupil constriction and light avoidance, and even image-forming vision. In this Mini-Symposium review, we will discuss some recent findings that highlight the diversity in both form and function of these recently discovered atypical photoreceptors.

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