UV- and midwave-sensitive cone-driven retinal responses of the mouse: a possible phenotype for coexpression of cone photopigments

J Neurosci. 1999 Jan 1;19(1):442-55. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.19-01-00442.1999.


Molecular biological, histological and flicker electroretinographic results have established that mice have two cone photopigments, one peaking near 350 nm (UV-cone pigment) and a second near 510 nm [midwave (M)-cone pigment]. The goal of this investigation was to measure the action spectra and absolute sensitivities of the UV-cone- and M-cone-driven b-wave responses of C57BL/6 mice. To achieve this goal, we suppressed rod-driven signals with steady or flashed backgrounds and obtained intensity-response relations for cone-driven b-waves elicited by narrowband flashes between 340 and 600 nm. The derived cone action spectra can be described as retinal1 pigments with peaks at 355 and 508 nm. The UV peak had an absolute sensitivity of approximately 8 nV/(photon microm2) at the cornea, approximately fourfold higher than the M peak. In an attempt to isolate UV-cone-driven responses, it was discovered that an orange conditioning flash (lambda > 530 nm) completely suppressed ERG signals driven by both M pigment- and UV pigment-containing cones. Analysis showed that the orange flash could not have produced a detectable response in the UV-cone pathway were their no linkage between M pigment- and UV pigment-generated signals. Because cones containing predominantly the UV and M pigments have been shown to be located largely in separate parts of the mouse retina (), the most probable linkage is coexpression of M pigment in cones primarily expressing UV pigment. New histological evidence supports this interpretation (). Our data are consistent with an upper bound of approximately 3% coexpression of M pigment in the cones that express mostly the UV pigment.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dark Adaptation
  • Electroretinography
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Phenotype
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Retinal Cone Photoreceptor Cells / radiation effects*
  • Retinal Pigments / physiology*
  • Signal Transduction / physiology
  • Ultraviolet Rays*


  • Retinal Pigments