, Volume 67, Issue 1, pp 99-111
Date: 29 Oct 2009

Melanopsin and inner retinal photoreception

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Abstract

Over the last ten years there has been growing acceptance that retinal photoreception among mammals extends beyond rods and cones to include a small number of intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells (ipRGCs). These ipRGCs are capable of responding to light in the absence of rod/cone input thanks to expression of an opsin photopigment called melanopsin. They are specialised for measuring ambient levels of light (irradiance) for a wide variety of so-called non-image-forming light responses. These include synchronisation of circadian clocks to light:dark cycles and the regulation of pupil size, sleep propensity and pineal melatonin production. Here, we provide a review of some of the landmark discoveries in this fast developing field, paying particular emphasis to recent findings and key areas for future investigation.