Mutation of the calcium channel gene Cacna1f disrupts calcium signaling, synaptic transmission and cellular organization in mouse retina

Hum Mol Genet. 2005 Oct 15;14(20):3035-46. doi: 10.1093/hmg/ddi336. Epub 2005 Sep 9.


Retinal neural transmission represents a key function of the eye. Identifying the molecular components of this vital process is helped by studies of selected human genetic eye disorders. For example, mutations in the calcium channel subunit gene CACNA1F cause incomplete X-linked congenital stationary night blindness (CSNB2 or iCSNB), a human retinal disorder with abnormal electrophysiological response and visual impairments consistent with a retinal neurotransmission defect. To understand the subcellular basis of this retinal disorder, we generated a mouse with a loss-of-function mutation by inserting a self-excising Cre-lox-neo cassette into exon 7 of the murine orthologue, Cacna1f. Electroretinography of the mutant mouse revealed a scotopic a-wave of marginally reduced amplitude compared with the wild-type mouse and absence of the post-receptoral b-wave and oscillatory potentials. Cone ERG responses together with visual evoked potentials and multi-unit activity in the superior colliculus were also absent. Calcium imaging in Fluo-4 loaded retinal slices depolarized with KCl showed 90% less peak signal in the photoreceptor synapses of the Cacna1f mutant than in wild-type mice. The absence of post-receptoral ERG responses and the diminished photoreceptor calcium signals are consistent with a loss of Ca((2+)) channel function in photoreceptors. Immunocytochemistry showed no detectable Ca(v)1.4 protein in the outer plexiform layer of Cacna1f-mutant mice, profound loss of photoreceptor synapses, and abnormal dendritic sprouting of second-order neurons in the photoreceptor layer. Together, these findings in the Cacna1f-mutant mouse reveal that the Ca(v)1.4 calcium channel is vital for the functional assembly and/or maintenance and synaptic functions of photoreceptor ribbon synapses. Moreover, the outcome of this study provides critical clues to the pathophysiology of the human retinal channelopathy of X-linked incomplete CSNB.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcium Channels / genetics*
  • Calcium Channels / metabolism*
  • Calcium Channels, L-Type
  • Calcium Signaling*
  • Electroretinography
  • Genotype
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Mice
  • Mutagenesis, Insertional
  • Mutation / genetics*
  • Retina / cytology*
  • Retina / metabolism*
  • Retina / ultrastructure
  • Synaptic Transmission*


  • Cacna1f protein, mouse
  • Calcium Channels
  • Calcium Channels, L-Type