The renewal of photoreceptor cell outer segments

J Cell Biol. 1967 Apr;33(1):61-72. doi: 10.1083/jcb.33.1.61.


The utilization of methionine-(3)H by retinal photoreceptor cells has been studied by radioautographic technique in the rat, mouse, and frog. In all three species, the labeled amino acid is concentrated initially in the inner segment of the cell. Within 24 hr, the radioactive material is displaced to the base of the outer segment, where it accumulates as a distinct reaction band. The reaction band then gradually moves along the outer segment and ultimately disappears at the apex of the cell, which is in contact with the retinal pigment epithelium. These findings are interpreted to indicate that the photoreceptor cell outer segment is continually renewed, by the repeated lamellar apposition of material (membranous discs) at the base of the outer segment, in conjunction with a balanced removal of material at its apex. The outer segment renewal rate is accelerated in frogs when ambient temperature is raised, and is elevated in both frogs and rats when the intensity of retinal illumination is increased.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anura
  • Autoradiography
  • Epithelial Cells
  • Eye Proteins / metabolism*
  • Light
  • Methionine / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Photoreceptor Cells / cytology*
  • Photoreceptor Cells / metabolism*
  • Rats
  • Retinal Pigments
  • Temperature
  • Tritium


  • Eye Proteins
  • Retinal Pigments
  • Tritium
  • Methionine