Unique topographic separation of two spectral classes of cones in the mouse retina

J Comp Neurol. 1992 Nov 15;325(3):327-42. doi: 10.1002/cne.903250302.


We have found two immunologically distinguishable cone types in the retina of the mouse, each localized to two opposite halves of the eye. One cone type was labelled by the monoclonal antibody COS-1 specific to the middle-to-long wave sensitive visual pigment of the mammals, while the other type was stained by the shortwave-specific monoclonal antibody (OS-2). These results were confirmed with other antibodies directed against specific sequences of the visual pigments. As a result of the uneven distribution of the two cone types the mouse retina is divided into two fields separated by an oblique meridional line. The middlewave sensitive cones were present exclusively in the dorsal half of the mouse retina (M-field). The overwhelming majority of the shortwave sensitive cones occupied the ventral half (S-field), and only a small number was scattered among the middlewave sensitive cones in the dorsal retina. The ratio of the two cone types in the M-field corresponds to what has been found in the retina of other mammals, including rodents such as the gerbil and the rat. The S-field represents an entirely unique area with the unusually great number of shortwave sensitive cones and with the complete lack of the middlewave sensitive ones. The present study provides the structural basis for dichromacy in a rodent species considered for a long time to be monochromat. In addition, it shows that the ventral retina, containing exclusively S-cones in a relatively high density, is a unique retinal field not present in other mammalian species studied so far.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / immunology
  • Female
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Lectins
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred Strains
  • Peanut Agglutinin
  • Photoreceptor Cells / cytology*
  • Photoreceptor Cells / immunology
  • Photoreceptor Cells / ultrastructure
  • Plastic Embedding
  • Retina / cytology*
  • Retina / ultrastructure
  • Species Specificity


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Lectins
  • Peanut Agglutinin