A photoreceptor cell is a specialized type of neuroepithelial cell found in the retina that is capable of visual phototransduction. The great biological importance of photoreceptors is that they convert light (visible electromagnetic radiation) into signals that can stimulate biological processes. To be more specific, photoreceptor proteins in the cell absorb photons, triggering a change in the cell's membrane potential.
There are currently three known types of photoreceptor cells in mammalian eyes: rods, cones, and photosensitive retinal ganglion cells. The two classic photoreceptor cells are rods and cones, each contributing information used by the visual system to form a representation of the visual world, sight. The rods are narrower than the cones and distributed differently across the retina, but the chemical process in each that supports phototransduction is similar. A third class of mammalian photoreceptor cell was discovered during the 1990s: the photosensitive ganglion cells. These cells do not contribute to sight directly, but are thought to support circadian rhythms and pupillary reflex.
There are major functional differences between the rods and cones. Rods are extremely sensitive, and can be triggered by a single photon. At very low light levels, visual experience is based solely on the rod signal. This explains why colors cannot be seen at low light levels: only one type of photoreceptor cell is active.
Cones require significantly brighter light (i.e., a larger number of photons) in order to produce a signal. In humans, there are three different types of cone cell, distinguished by their pattern of response to different wavelengths of light. Color experience is calculated from these three distinct signals, perhaps via an opponent process. The three types of cone cell respond (roughly) to light of short, medium, and long wavelengths. Note that, due to the principle of univariance, the firing of the cell depends upon only the number of photons absorbed. The different responses of the three types of cone cells are determined by the likelihoods that their respective photoreceptor proteins will absorb photons of different wavelengths. So, for example, an L cone cell contains a photoreceptor protein that more readily absorbs long wavelengths of light (i.e., more "red"). Light of a shorter wavelength can also produce the same response, but it must be much brighter to do so.
The human retina contains about 120 million rod cells, and 6 million cone cells. The number and ratio of rods to cones varies among species, dependent on whether an animal is primarily diurnal or nocturnal. Certain owls, such as the nocturnal tawny owl, have a tremendous number of rods in their retinae. In the human visual system, in addition to the photosensitive rods & cones, there are about 2.4 million to 3 million ganglion cells, with 1 to 2% of them being photosensitive. The axons of ganglion cells form the two optic nerves.
Photoreceptor cells are typically arranged in an irregular but approximately hexagonal grid, known as the retinal mosaic.
The pineal and parapineal glands are photoreceptive in non-mammalian vertebrates, but not in mammals. Birds have photoactive cerebrospinal fluid (CSF)-contacting neurons within the paraventricular organ that respond to light in the absence of input from the eyes or neurotransmitters. Invertebrate photoreceptors in organisms such as insects and molluscs are different in both their morphological organization and their underlying biochemical pathways. Described here are human photoreceptors.
|Anatomical terms of neuroanatomy|
Anatomy of cones and rods varies slightly.
Rod and cone photoreceptors are found on the outermost layer of the retina; they both have the same basic structure. Closest to the visual field (and farthest from the brain) is the axon terminal, which releases a neurotransmitter called glutamate to bipolar cells. Farther back is the cell body, which contains the cell's organelles. Farther back still is the inner segment, a specialized part of the cell full of mitochondria. The chief function of the inner segment is to provide ATP (energy) for the sodium-potassium pump. Finally, closest to the brain (and farthest from the field of view) is the outer segment, the part of the photoreceptor that absorbs light. Outer segments are actually modified cilia that contain disks filled with opsin, the molecule that absorbs photons, as well as voltage-gated sodium channels.
The membranous photoreceptor protein opsin contains a pigment molecule called retinal. In rod cells, these together are called rhodopsin. In cone cells, there are different types of opsins that combine with retinal to form pigments called photopsins. Three different classes of photopsins in the cones react to different ranges of light frequency, a differentiation that allows the visual system to calculate color. The function of the photoreceptor cell is to convert the light energy of the photon into a form of energy communicable to the nervous system and readily usable to the organism: This conversion is called signal transduction.
The opsin found in the photosensitive ganglion cells of the retina is called melanopsin. These cells are involved in various reflexive responses of the brain and body to the presence of (day)light, such as the regulation of circadian rhythms, pupillary reflex and other non-visual responses to light. Melanopsin functionally resembles invertebrate opsins.
When light activates the melanopsin signaling system, the melanopsin-containing ganglion cells discharge nerve impulses that are conducted through their axons to specific brain targets. These targets include the olivary pretectal nucleus (a center responsible for controlling the pupil of the eye), the LGN, and, through the retinohypothalamic tract (RHT), the suprachiasmatic nucleus of the hypothalamus (the master pacemaker of circadian rhythms). Melanopsin-containing ganglion cells are thought to influence these targets by releasing from their axon terminals the neurotransmitters glutamate and pituitary adenylate cyclase activating polypeptide (PACAP).
The human retina has approximately 6 million cones and 120 million rods. Signals from the rods and cones converge on ganglion and bipolar cells for preprocessing before they are sent to the lateral geniculate nucleus. At the "center" of the retina (the point directly behind the lens) lies the fovea (or fovea centralis), which contains only cone cells; and is the region capable of producing the highest visual acuity or highest resolution. Across the rest of the retina, rods and cones are intermingled. No photoreceptors are found at the blind spot, the area where ganglion cell fibers are collected into the optic nerve and leave the eye.
The photoreceptor proteins in the three types of cones differ in their sensitivity to photons of different wavelengths (see graph). Since cones respond to both the wavelength and intensity of light, the cone's sensitivity to wavelength is measured in terms of its relative rate of response if the intensity of a stimulus is held fixed, while the wavelength is varied. From this, in turn, is inferred the absorbance. The graph normalizes the degree of absorbance on a hundred-point scale. For example, the S cone's relative response peaks around 420 nm (nanometers, a measure of wavelength). This tells us that an S cone is more likely to absorb a photon at 420 nm than at any other wavelength. If light of a different wavelength to which it is less sensitive, say 480 nm, is increased in brightness appropriately, however, it will produce exactly the same response in the S cone. So, the colors of the curves are misleading. Cones cannot detect color by themselves; rather, color vision requires comparison of the signal across different cone types.
The process of phototransduction occurs in the retina. The retina has many layers of various cell types. The best-known photoreceptor cells (rods and cones) form the outermost layer. They are the photoreceptors responsible for sight. The middle layer contains bipolar cells, which collect neural signals from the rods and the cones and then transmit them to the innermost layer of the retina, where the neurons called retinal ganglion cells (RGCs), a small percentage of which are themselves photosensitive, organize the signals and send them to the brain.
Activation of rods and cones is actually hyperpolarization; when they are not being stimulated, they depolarize and release glutamate continuously. In the dark, cells have a relatively high concentration of cyclic guanosine 3'-5' monophosphate (cGMP), which opens ion channels (largely sodium channels, though calcium can enter through these channels as well). The positive charges of the ions that enter the cell down its electrochemical gradient change the cell's membrane potential, cause depolarization, and lead to the release of the neurotransmitter glutamate. Glutamate can depolarize some neurons and hyperpolarize others.
When light hits a photoreceptive pigment within the photoreceptor cell, the pigment changes shape. The pigment, called iodopsin or rhodopsin, consists of large proteins called opsin (situated in the plasma membrane), attached to a covalently bound prosthetic group: an organic molecule called retinal (a derivative of vitamin A). The retinal exists in the 11-cis-retinal form when in the dark, and stimulation by light causes its structure to change to all-trans-retinal. This structural change causes it to activate a regulatory protein called transducin, which leads to the activation of cGMP phosphodiesterase, which breaks cGMP down into 5'-GMP. Reduction in cGMP allows the ion channels to close, preventing the influx of positive ions, hyperpolarizing the cell, and stopping the release of neurotransmitters. The entire process by which light initiates a sensory response is called visual phototransduction.
Unstimulated (in the dark), cyclic-nucleotide gated channels in the outer segment are open because cyclic GMP (cGMP) is bound to them. Hence, positively charged ions (namely sodium ions) enter the photoreceptor, depolarizing it to about −40 mV (resting potential in other nerve cells is usually −65 mV). This depolarization current is often known as dark current.
The signal transduction pathway is the mechanism by which the energy of a photon signals a mechanism in the cell that leads to its electrical polarization. This polarization ultimately leads to either the transmittance or inhibition of a neural signal that will be fed to the brain via the optic nerve. The steps, or signal transduction pathway, in the vertebrate eye's rod and cone photoreceptors are then:
Thus, a rod or cone photoreceptor actually releases less neurotransmitter when stimulated by light. Less neurotransmitter in the synaptic cleft between a photoreceptor and bipolar cell will serve to either excite (depolarize) ON bipolar cells or inhibit (hyperpolarize) OFF bipolar cells. Thus, it is at the photoreceptor-bipolar cell synapse where visual signals are split into ON and OFF pathways.
ATP provided by the inner segment powers the sodium-potassium pump. This pump is necessary to reset the initial state of the outer segment by taking the sodium ions that are entering the cell and pumping them back out.
Although photoreceptors are neurons, they do not conduct action potentials with the exception of the photosensitive ganglion cell – which are involved mainly in the regulation of circadian rhythms, melatonin, and pupil dilation.
Phototransduction in rods and cones is somewhat unusual in that the stimulus (in this case, light) reduces the cell's response or firing rate, different from most other sensory systems in which a stimulus increases the cell's response or firing rate. This difference has important functional consequences:
First, the classic (rod or cone) photoreceptor is depolarized in the dark, which means many sodium ions are flowing into the cell. Thus, the random opening or closing of sodium channels will not affect the membrane potential of the cell; only the closing of a large number of channels, through absorption of a photon, will affect it and signal that light is in the visual field. This system may have less noise relative to sensory transduction schema that increase rate of neural firing in response to stimulus, like touch and olfaction.
Second, there is a lot of amplification in two stages of classic phototransduction: one pigment will activate many molecules of transducin, and one PDE will cleave many cGMPs. This amplification means that even the absorption of one photon will affect membrane potential and signal to the brain that light is in the visual field. This is the main feature that differentiates rod photoreceptors from cone photoreceptors. Rods are extremely sensitive and have the capacity of registering a single photon of light, unlike cones. On the other hand, cones are known to have very fast kinetics in terms of rate of amplification of phototransduction, unlike rods.
|Used for scotopic vision (vision under low light conditions)||Used for photopic vision (vision under high light conditions)|
|Very light sensitive; sensitive to scattered light||Not very light sensitive; sensitive to only direct light|
|Loss causes night blindness||Loss causes legal blindness|
|Low visual acuity||High visual acuity; better spatial resolution|
|Not present in fovea||Concentrated in fovea|
|Slow response to light, stimuli added over time||Fast response to light, can perceive more rapid changes in stimuli|
|Have more pigment than cones, so can detect lower light levels||Have less pigment than rods, require more light to detect images|
|Stacks of membrane-enclosed disks are unattached to cell membrane directly||Disks are attached to outer membrane|
|About 120 million rods distributed around the retina||About 6 million cones distributed in each retina|
|One type of photosensitive pigment||Three types of photosensitive pigment in humans|
|Confer achromatic vision||Confer color vision|
A given photoreceptor responds to both the wavelength and intensity of a light source. For example, red light at a certain intensity can produce the same exact response in a photoreceptor as green light of a different intensity. Therefore, the response of a single photoreceptor is ambiguous when it comes to color.
To determine color, the visual system compares responses across a population of photoreceptors (specifically, the three different cones with differing absorption spectra). To determine intensity, the visual system computes how many photoreceptors are responding. This is the mechanism that allows trichromatic color vision in humans and some other animals.
The key events mediating rod versus S cone versus M cone differentiation are induced by several transcription factors, including RORbeta, OTX2, NRL, CRX, NR2E3 and TRbeta2. The S cone fate represents the default photoreceptor program, however differential transcriptional activity can bring about rod or M cone generation. L cones are present in primates, however there is not much known for their developmental program due to use of rodents in research. There are five steps to developing photoreceptors: proliferation of multi-potent retinal progenitor cells (RPCs); restriction of competence of RPCs; cell fate specification; photoreceptor gene expression; and lastly axonal growth, synapse formation and outer segment growth.
Early Notch signaling maintains progenitor cycling. Photoreceptor precursors come about through inhibition of Notch signaling and increased activity of various factors including achaete-scute homologue 1. OTX2 activity commits cells to the photoreceptor fate. CRX further defines the photoreceptor specific panel of genes being expressed. NRL expression leads to the rod fate. NR2E3 further restricts cells to the rod fate by repressing cone genes. RORbeta is needed for both rod and cone development. TRbeta2 mediates the M cone fate. If any of the previously mentioned factors' functions are ablated, the default photoreceptor is a S cone. These events take place at different time periods for different species and include a complex pattern of activities that bring about a spectrum of phenotypes. If these regulatory networks are disrupted, retinitis pigmentosa, macular degeneration or other visual deficits may result.
The rod and cone photoreceptors signal their absorption of photons via a decrease in the release of the neurotransmitter glutamate to bipolar cells at its axon terminal. Since the photoreceptor is depolarized in the dark, a high amount of glutamate is being released to bipolar cells in the dark. Absorption of a photon will hyperpolarize the photoreceptor and therefore result in the release of less glutamate at the presynaptic terminal to the bipolar cell.
Every rod or cone photoreceptor releases the same neurotransmitter, glutamate. However, the effect of glutamate differs in the bipolar cells, depending upon the type of receptor imbedded in that cell's membrane. When glutamate binds to an ionotropic receptor, the bipolar cell will depolarize (and therefore will hyperpolarize with light as less glutamate is released). On the other hand, binding of glutamate to a metabotropic receptor results in a hyperpolarization, so this bipolar cell will depolarize to light as less glutamate is released.
In essence, this property allows for one population of bipolar cells that gets excited by light and another population that gets inhibited by it, even though all photoreceptors show the same response to light. This complexity becomes both important and necessary for detecting color, contrast, edges, etc.
Further complexity arises from the various interconnections among bipolar cells, horizontal cells, and amacrine cells in the retina. The final result is differing populations of ganglion cells in the retina, a sub-population of which is also intrinsically photosensitive, using the photopigment melanopsin.
A non-rod non-cone photoreceptor in the eyes of mice, which was shown to mediate circadian rhythms, was discovered in 1991 by Foster et al. These neuronal cells, called intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells (ipRGC), are a small subset (≈1–3%) of the retinal ganglion cells located in the inner retina, that is, in front of the rods and cones located in the outer retina. These light sensitive neurons contain a photopigment, melanopsin, which has an absorption peak of the light at a different wavelength (≈480 nm) than rods and cones. Beside circadian / behavioral functions, ipRGCs have a role in initiating the pupillary light reflex.
Dennis Dacey with colleagues showed in a species of Old World monkey that giant ganglion cells expressing melanopsin projected to the lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN). Previously only projections to the midbrain (pre-tectal nucleus) and hypothalamus (suprachiasmatic nucleus) had been shown. However a visual role for the receptor was still unsuspected and unproven.
In 2007, Farhan H. Zaidi and colleagues published pioneering work using rodless coneless humans. Current Biology subsequently announced in their 2008 editorial, commentary and despatches to scientists and ophthalmologists, that the non-rod non-cone photoreceptor had been conclusively discovered in humans using landmark experiments on rodless coneless humans by Zaidi and colleagues As had been found in other mammals, the identity of the non-rod non-cone photoreceptor in humans was found to be a ganglion cell in the inner retina. The workers had tracked down patients with rare diseases wiping out classic rod and cone photoreceptor function but preserving ganglion cell function. Despite having no rods or cones the patients continued to exhibit circadian photoentrainment, circadian behavioural patterns, melanopsin suppression, and pupil reactions, with peak spectral sensitivities to environmental and experimental light matching that for the melanopsin photopigment. Their brains could also associate vision with light of this frequency.
In humans the retinal ganglion cell photoreceptor contributes to conscious sight as well as to non-image-forming functions like circadian rhythms, behaviour and pupil reactions. Since these cells respond mostly to blue light, it has been suggested that they have a role in mesopic vision. Zaidi and colleagues' work with rodless coneless human subjects hence also opened the door into image-forming (visual) roles for the ganglion cell photoreceptor. It was discovered that there are parallel pathways for vision – one classic rod and cone-based pathway arising from the outer retina, and the other a rudimentary visual brightness detector pathway arising from the inner retina, which seems to be activated by light before the other. Classic photoreceptors also feed into the novel photoreceptor system, and colour constancy may be an important role as suggested by Foster. The receptor could be instrumental in understanding many diseases including major causes of blindness worldwide like glaucoma, a disease that affects ganglion cells, and the study of the receptor offered potential as a new avenue to explore in trying to find treatments for blindness. It is in these discoveries of the novel photoreceptor in humans and in the receptor's role in vision, rather than its non-image-forming functions, where the receptor may have the greatest impact on society as a whole, though the impact of disturbed circadian rhythms is another area of relevance to clinical medicine.
Most work suggests that the peak spectral sensitivity of the receptor is between 460 and 482 nm. Steven Lockley et al. in 2003 showed that 460 nm wavelengths of light suppress melatonin twice as much as longer 555 nm light. However, in more recent work by Farhan Zaidi et al., using rodless coneless humans, it was found that what consciously led to light perception was a very intense 481 nm stimulus; this means that the receptor, in visual terms, enables some rudimentary vision maximally for blue light.
ATP-binding cassette, sub-family A (ABC1), member 4, also known as ABCA4 or ABCR, is a protein which in humans is encoded by the ABCA4 gene.ABCA4 is a member of the ATP-binding cassette transporter gene sub-family A (ABC1) found exclusively in multicellular eukaryotes. The gene was first cloned and characterized in 1997 as a gene that causes Stargardt disease, an autosomal recessive disease that causes macular degeneration. The ABCA4 gene transcribes a large retina-specific protein with two transmembrane domains (TMD), two glycosylated extracellular domains (ECD), and two nucleotide-binding domains (NBD). The ABCA4 protein is almost exclusively expressed in retina localizing in outer segment disk edges of rod photoreceptors.BBS4
Bardet-Biedl syndrome 4 is a protein that in humans is encoded by the BBS4 gene.This gene encodes a protein which contains tetratricopeptide repeats (TPR), similar to O-linked N-acetylglucosamine transferase. Mutations in this gene have been observed in patients with Bardet-Biedl syndrome type 4. The encoded protein may play a role in pigmentary retinopathy, obesity, polydactyly, renal malformation and mental retardation.CNGB1
Cyclic nucleotide gated channel beta 1, also known as CNGB1, is a human gene encoding an ion channel protein.CRX (gene)
Cone-rod homeobox protein is a protein that in humans is encoded by the CRX gene.DLX1
Homeobox protein DLX-1 is a protein that in humans is encoded by the DLX1 gene.LRGB
LRGB, short for Luminance, Red, Green and Blue, is a photographic technique used in amateur astronomy for producing good quality color photographs by combining a high-quality black-and-white image with a lower-quality color image.In amateur astronomy, it is easier and cheaper to obtain good quality, high signal-to-noise ratio images in black and white. The LRGB method is used to work around this to get good color images. The color information from the color image is combined with the overall brightness from the black-and-white image.
The theory behind the effectiveness behind LRGB techniques has been related to the way humans see color. The rods in human eyes are sensitive to luminance and spatial data, while the cones are sensitive to color. There are three types of cones: those sensitive to red, those sensitive to green, and those sensitive to blue. Thus, each element of LRGB targets one type of photoreceptor cell in the human eye.NPHP4
Nephrocystin-4 is a protein that in humans is encoded by the NPHP4 gene.This gene encodes a protein which contains a proline-rich region. The encoded protein may function in renal tubular development and function. This protein interacts with nephrocystin. Mutations in this gene are associated with nephronophthisis type 4. Multiple alternative transcript variants have been described but their full-length nature has not been determined.Neurocalcin
Neurocalcin is a neuronal calcium-binding protein that belongs to the neuronal calcium sensor (NCS) family of proteins. It expressed in mammalian brains. It possesses a Ca2+/myristoyl switch
The subclass of neurocalcins are brain-specific proteins that fit into the EF-hand superfamily of calcium binding proteins. The NCS family were defined by the photoreceptor cell-specific protein, recoverin. Neurocalcin was purified from the bovine brain by using calcium-dependent drug affinity chromatography. The amino acid sequence showed that neurocalcin has three functional calcium binding sites. It is expressed in the central nervous system, retina, and adrenal gland. With this unique pattern of expression it is thought that neurcalcin offers a different physiological role than similar proteins visinin and recoverin.Ommatidium
The compound eyes of arthropods like insects, crustaceans and millipedes are composed of units called ommatidia (singular: ommatidium). An ommatidium contains a cluster of photoreceptor cells surrounded by support cells and pigment cells. The outer part of the ommatidium is overlaid with a transparent cornea. Each ommatidium is innervated by one axon bundle (usually consisting of 6-9 axons, depending on the number of rhabdomeres) and provides the brain with one picture element. The brain forms an image from these independent picture elements. The number of ommatidia in the eye depends upon the type of arthropod and may be as low as 5 as in the Antarctic isopod Glyptonotus antarcticus or range from just a handful in the primitive Zygentoma to around 30 thousand in larger Anisoptera dragonflies as well as in some Sphingidae moths.Ommatidia are typically hexagonal in cross-section and approximately ten times longer than wide. The diameter is largest at the surface, tapering toward the inner end. At the outer surface, there is a cornea, below which is a pseudocone that acts to further focus the light. The cornea and pseudocone form the outer ten percent of the length of the ommatidium.
The inner 90% of the ommatidium contains 6 to 9 (depending on the species) long and thin photoreceptor cells in the case of some butterflies often abbreviated "R cells" in literature and often numbered, e.g. R1 through R9. These "R cells" tightly pack the ommatidium. The portion of the R cells at the central axis of the ommatidium collectively form a light guide, a transparent tube, called the rhabdom.
In true flies, the rhabdom has separated into seven independent rhabdomeres (there are actually eight, but the two central rhabdomeres responsible for color vision sit one atop the other), such that a small inverted 7-pixel image is formed in each ommatidium. Simultaneously, the rhabdomeres in adjacent ommatidia are aligned such that the field of view within an ommatidium is the same as that between ommatidia. The advantage of this arrangement is that the same visual axis is sampled from a larger area of the eye, thereby increasing sensitivity by a factor of seven, without increasing the size of the eye or reducing its acuity. Achieving this has also required the rewiring of the eye such that the axon bundles are twisted through 180 degrees (re-inverted), and each rhabdomere is united with those from the six adjacent ommatidia that share the same visual axis. Thus, at the level of the lamina - the first optical processing center of the insect brain - the signals are input in exactly the same manner as in the case of a normal apposition compound eye, but the image is enhanced. This visual arrangement is known as neural superposition.Since an image from the compound eye is created from the independent picture elements produced by ommatidia, it is important for the ommatidia to react only to that part of the scene directly in front of them. To prevent light entering at an angle from being detected by the ommatidium it entered, or by any of the neighboring ommatidia, six pigment cells are present. The pigment cells line the outside of each ommatidium. Each pigment cell is situated at the apex of the hexagons and thus lines the outside of three ommatidia. Light entering at an angle passes through the thin cross-section of the photoreceptor cell, with only a tiny chance of exciting it, and is absorbed by the pigment cell, before it can enter a neighboring ommatidium. In many species, in low-light situations, the pigment is withdrawn, so that light entering the eye might be detected by any of several ommatidia. This enhances light detection but lowers resolution.
The size of the ommatidia varies according to species, but ranges from 5 to 50 micrometres. The rhabdoms within them may cross-section at least as small as 1.x micrometres, the category of "small" being assigned in some cross-species studies to those under 2 micrometers. A microlens array can be seen as an elementary, biomimetic analogy of ommatidia.Outer plexiform layer
The outer plexiform layer (external plexiform layer) is a layer of neuronal synapses in the retina of the eye. It consists of a dense network of synapses between dendrites of horizontal cells from the inner nuclear layer, and photoreceptor cell inner segments from the outer nuclear layer. It is much thinner than the inner plexiform layer, where amacrine cells synapse with retinal ganglion cells.The synapses in the outer plexiform layer are between the rod cell endings or cone cell branched foot plates and horizontal cells. Unlike in most systems, rod and cone cells release neurotransmitters when not receiving a light signal.Photoreceptor
Photoreceptor can refer to:
In anatomy/cell biology:
Photoreceptor cell, a photosensitive cell in the retina of vertebrate eyes
Simple eye in invertebrates (Ocellus), photoreceptor organ ("simple eye") of invertebrates often composed of a few sensory cells and a single lens
Eyespot apparatus (microbial photoreceptor), the photoreceptor organelle of a unicellular organism that allows for phototaxisIn biochemistry:
Photoreceptor protein, a chromoprotein that responds to being exposed to a certain wavelength of light by initiating a signal transduction cascade
Photopigment, an unstable pigment that undergoes a physical or chemical change upon absorbing a particular wavelength of light; also see
Photosynthetic pigment, molecules involved in transducing light into chemical energyIn technology:
Photodetector or photosensor, a device that detects light by capturing photons
Electronic photoreceptor, a sensor that converts solar energy into electric energyPhotoreceptors can detect the change of light and the change of color.Photoreceptor cell-specific nuclear receptor
The photoreceptor cell-specific nuclear receptor (PNR), also known as NR2E3 (nuclear receptor subfamily 2, group E, member 3), is a protein that in humans is encoded by the NR2E3 gene. PNR is a member of the nuclear receptor super family of intracellular transcription factors.RP1
Oxygen-regulated protein 1 also known as retinitis pigmentosa 1 protein (RP1) is a protein that in humans is encoded by the RP1 gene.Retina bipolar cell
As a part of the retina, bipolar cells exist between photoreceptors (rod cells and cone cells) and ganglion cells. They act, directly or indirectly, to transmit signals from the photoreceptors to the ganglion cells.Retinal degeneration (rhodopsin mutation)
Retinal degeneration is a retinopathy which consists in the deterioration of the retina caused by the progressive death of its cells. There are several reasons for retinal degeneration, including artery or vein occlusion, diabetic retinopathy, R.L.F./R.O.P. (retrolental fibroplasia/ retinopathy of prematurity), or disease (usually hereditary). These may present in many different ways such as impaired vision, night blindness, retinal detachment, light sensitivity, tunnel vision, and loss of peripheral vision to total loss of vision. Of the retinal degenerative diseases retinitis pigmentosa (RP) is a very important example.
Inherited retinal degenerative disorders in humans exhibit genetic and phenotypic heterogeneity in their underlying causes and clinical outcomes. These retinopathies affect approximately one in 2000 individuals worldwide. A wide variety of causes have been attributed to retinal degeneration, such as disruption of genes that are involved in phototransduction, biosynthesis and folding of the rhodopsin molecule, and the structural support of the retina. Mutations in the rhodopsin gene account for 25% to 30% (30% to 40% according to) of all cases of autosomal dominant retinitis pigmentosa (adRP) in North America. There are many mechanisms of retinal degeneration attributed to rhodopsin mutations or mutations that involve or affect the function of rhodopsin. One mechanism of retinal degeneration is rhodopsin overexpression. Another mechanism, whereby a mutation caused a truncated rhodopsin, was found to affect rod function and increased the rate of photoreceptor degeneration.Retinal summation
Retinal summation describes the relationship between different types of cells in the retina: cone photoreceptor cells, bipolar cells, and ganglion cells. With high retinal summation, a large number of photoreceptor cells converge on a smaller number of bipolar cells in transferring their signals to ganglion cells. Zero summation occurs when each cone photoreceptor cell contacts a single ganglion cell via a single bipolar cell.High summation increases sensitivity to light at the expense of visual acuity. Low retinal summation results in high visual acuity, with individual photoreceptor cells sending their own signals. High retinal summation yields high sensitivity to low light levels, where the signal is summed before reaching the brain—presumably advantageous when the signals reaching individual photoreceptor cells are weak.High retinal summation is an adaptation to low light levels, and low retinal summation to high light levels (thus sharpening the images).Retinylidene protein
Retinylidene protein, is a family of proteins that use retinal as a chromophore for light reception. It is the molecular basis for a variety of light-sensing systems from phototaxis in flagellates to eyesight in animals. Retinylidene proteins include all forms of opsin and rhodopsin (in the broad sense). While rhodopsin in the narrow sense refers to a dim-light visual pigment found in vertebrates, usually on rod cells, rhodopsin in the broad sense (as used here) refers any molecule consisting of an opsin and a retinal chromophore in the ground state. When activated by light, the chromophore is isomerized, at which point the molecule as a whole is no longer rhodopsin, but a related molecule such as metarhodopsin. However, it remains a retinylidene protein. The chromophore then separates from the opsin, at which point the bare opsin is a retinylidene protein. Thus, the molecule remains a retinylidene protein throughout the phototransduction cycle.Rod cell
Rod cells are photoreceptor cells in the retina of the eye that can function in less intense light than the other type of visual photoreceptor, cone cells. Rods are usually found concentrated at the outer edges of the retina and are used in peripheral vision. On average, there are approximately 92 million rod cells in the human retina. Rod cells are more sensitive than cone cells and are almost entirely responsible for night vision. However, rods have little role in color vision, which is the main reason why colors are much less apparent in dim light, and not at all at night.Visual phototransduction
Visual phototransduction is the sensory transduction of the visual system. It is a process by which light is converted into electrical signals in the rod cells, cone cells and photosensitive ganglion cells of the retina of the eye. This cycle was elucidated by George Wald (1906–1997) for which he received the Nobel Prize in 1967. It is so called "Wald's Visual Cycle" after him.
The visual cycle is the biological conversion of a photon into an electrical signal in the retina. This process occurs via G-protein coupled receptors called opsins which contain the chromophore 11-cis retinal. 11-cis retinal is covalently linked to the opsin receptor via Schiff base forming retinylidene protein. When struck by a photon, 11-cis retinal undergoes photoisomerization to all-trans retinal which changes the conformation of the opsin GPCR leading to signal transduction cascades which causes closure of cyclic GMP-gated cation channel, and hyperpolarization of the photoreceptor cell.
Following isomerization and release from the opsin protein, all-trans retinal is reduced to all-trans retinol and travels back to the retinal pigment epithelium to be "recharged". It is first esterified by lecithin retinol acyltransferase (LRAT) and then converted to 11-cis retinol by the isomerohydrolase RPE65. The isomerase activity of RPE65 has been shown; it is still uncertain whether it also acts as hydrolase. Finally, it is oxidized to 11-cis retinal before traveling back to the rod outer segment where it is again conjugated to an opsin to form new, functional visual pigment (rhodopsin).
|Fibrous tunic (outer)|
|Uvea/vascular tunic (middle)|
|Anatomical regions of the eye|