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Science 299 (5604): 245-247

Copyright © 2003 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science

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

R. J. Lucas,1*dagger S. Hattar,2* M. Takao,3 D. M. Berson,3 R. G. Foster,1 K.-W. Yau2dagger

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.

1 Department of Integrative and Molecular Neuroscience, Division of Neuroscience and Psychological Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Imperial College London, Charing Cross Campus, St. Dunstans Road, London W6 8RF, UK.
2 Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Department of Neuroscience, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, 725 North Wolfe Street, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA.
3 Department of Neuroscience, Brown University, Providence, RI 02912, USA.
*   These authors contributed equally to this work.

dagger    To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: r.j.lucas{at}, kwyau{at}

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