Although mice lacking rod and cone photoreceptors are blind, they retain many eye-mediated responses to light, possibly through photosensitive retinal ganglion cells. These cells express melanopsin, a photopigment that confers this photosensitivity. Mice lacking melanopsin still retain nonvisual photoreception, suggesting that rods and cones could operate in this capacity. We observed that mice with both outer-retinal degeneration and a deficiency in melanopsin exhibited complete loss of photoentrainment of the circadian oscillator, pupillary light responses, photic suppression of arylalkylamine-N-acetyltransferase transcript, and acute suppression of locomotor activity by light. This indicates the importance of both nonvisual and classical visual photoreceptor systems for nonvisual photic responses in mammals.
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