Colour and melanopsin mediated responses in the murine retina

Josh Mouland, Alex J Watson, Franck P Martial, Robert J Lucas, Timothy M Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells (ipRGCs) integrate melanopsin and rod/cone-mediated inputs to signal to the brain. Whilst originally identified as a cell type specialised for encoding ambient illumination, several lines of evidence indicate a strong association between colour discrimination and ipRGC-driven responses. Thus, cone-mediated colour opponent responses have been widely found across ipRGC target regions in the mouse brain and influence a key ipRGC-dependent function, circadian photoentrainment. Although ipRGCs exhibiting spectrally opponent responses have also been identified, the prevalence of such properties have not been systematically evaluated across the mouse retina or yet been found in ipRGC subtypes known to influence the circadian system. Indeed, there is still uncertainty around the overall prevalence of cone-dependent colour opponency across the mouse retina, given the strong retinal gradient in S and M-cone opsin (co)-expression and overlapping spectral sensitivities of most mouse opsins. Methods: To address this, we use photoreceptor isolating stimuli in multielectrode recordings from human red cone opsin knock-in mouse (Opn1mwR) retinas to systematically survey cone mediated responses and the occurrence of colour opponency across ganglion cell layer (GCL) neurons and identify ipRGCs based on spectral comparisons and/or the persistence of light responses under synaptic blockade. Results: Despite detecting robust cone-mediated responses across the retina, we find cone opponency is rare, especially outside of the central retina (overall ~3% of GCL neurons). In keeping with previous suggestions we also see some evidence of rod-cone opponency (albeit even more rare under our experimental conditions), but find no evidence for any enrichment of cone (or rod) opponent responses among functionally identified ipRGCs. Conclusion: In summary, these data suggest the widespread appearance of cone-opponency across the mouse early visual system and ipRGC-related responses may be an emergent feature of central visual processing mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1114634
JournalFrontiers in cellular neuroscience
Publication statusPublished - 13 Mar 2023


  • RGCs
  • colour opponency
  • intrinsically photoreceptive retinal ganglion cells
  • ipRGCs
  • melanopsin
  • mouse
  • retinal ganglia cells
  • silent substitution


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