Purpose: Photoreceptors in the mouse retina express much of the molecular machinery necessary for phototransduction and glutamatergic transmission prior to eye opening at postnatal day 13 (P13). Light responses have been observed collectively from rod and cone photoreceptors via electroretinogram recordings as early as P13 in mouse, and the responses are known to become more robust with maturation, reaching a mature state by P30. Photocurrents from single rod outer segments have been recorded at P12, but no earlier, and similar studies on cone photoreceptors have been done, but only in the adult mouse retina. In this study, we wanted to document the earliest time point in which outer retinal photoreceptors in the mouse retina begin to respond to mid-wavelength light.
Methods: Ex-vivo electroretinogram recordings were made from isolated mouse retinae at P7, P8, P9, P10, and P30 at seven different flash energies (561 nm). The a-wave was pharmacologically isolated and measured at each developmental time point across all flash energies.
Results: Outer-retinal photoreceptors generated a detectable response to mid-wavelength light as early as P8, but only at photopic flash energies. a-wave intensity response curves and kinetic response properties are similar to the mature retina as early as P10.
Conclusion: These data represent the earliest recorded outer retinal light responses in the rodent. Photoreceptors are electrically functional and photoresponsive prior to eye opening, and much earlier than previously thought. Prior to eye opening, critical developmental processes occur that have been thought to be independent of outer retinal photic modulation. However, these data suggest light acting through outer-retinal photoreceptors has the potential to shape these critical developmental processes.
Keywords: Ex-vivo electroretinogram; a-wave; melanopsin; outer retinal dendrite; photoreceptor; postnatal.