Cone photoreceptors function under bright light conditions and are essential for color perception and vision with high temporal and spatial resolution. Remarkably, unlike rods, cones remain functional even in steady bright light and dark adapt rapidly. Both of these properties require rapid recycling of chromophore for regeneration of cone visual pigment. Biochemical studies and shortcomings of the canonical pigment epithelium pathway for chromophore recycling indicate the possible existence of a second, cone- specific chromophore pathway located in the retina and independent of the pigment epithelium. The function of such a pathway under physiological conditions, its role in photoreceptor physiology, and its regulation have not been investigated. We propose to use single-cell and whole retina recordings from mouse photoreceptors to characterize the physiological function of this novel visual cycle. Specifically, we will determine the ability of mammalian retina to promote pigment regeneration and dark adaptation in cones independently of the pigment epithelium. We will establish the role of the mammalian retina visual cycle in extending the dynamic range of cones during background adaptation and in accelerating the recovery of cone sensitivity during dark adaptation. We will determine whether the specificity of the mammalian retina visual cycle is based on the ability of cones, and not rods, to oxidize 11-cis retinol, recycled within the retina, into 11-cis retinal and use it for pigment regeneration. We will use available genetically modified mice and pharmacological tools to characterize key steps in the pathway and their modulation by chromophore-binding proteins expressed in the retina. Collectively, the experiments outlined in this proposal seek to establish the mechanisms that enable mammalian cones to function in rapidly varying light conditions, an essential property for the photoreceptors that mediate daytime vision. In addition to advancing the understanding of cone cell biology, our studies of the mammalian retina visual cycle have potential clinical implications. Mutations in the chromophore-binding proteins investigated in this study have been associated with multiple visual disorders including Stargardt disease, cone-rod dystrophy, and macular degeneration. No treatments currently exist for these disorders. Our experiments will lay the foundation for understanding how specific defects in the retina visual cycle produce cone-related retinal disorders, as well as for the development of new treatments targeting specifically the function of cones.

Public Health Relevance

The experiments outlined in this proposal seek to establish the mechanisms that enable mammalian cones to function in bright light, an essential property for the photoreceptors that mediate daytime vision. These studies will help us understand the mechanisms that regulate mammalian cone function under normal and pathological conditions.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Eye Institute (NEI)
Research Project (R01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Biology and Diseases of the Posterior Eye Study Section (BDPE)
Program Officer
Neuhold, Lisa
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Washington University
Schools of Medicine
Saint Louis
United States
Zip Code
Vinberg, Frans; Chen, Jeannie; Kefalov, Vladimir J (2018) Regulation of calcium homeostasis in the outer segments of rod and cone photoreceptors. Prog Retin Eye Res 67:87-101
Sato, Shinya; Peshenko, Igor V; Olshevskaya, Elena V et al. (2018) GUCY2D Cone-Rod Dystrophy-6 Is a ""Phototransduction Disease"" Triggered by Abnormal Calcium Feedback on Retinal Membrane Guanylyl Cyclase 1. J Neurosci 38:2990-3000
Vinberg, Frans; Kefalov, Vladimir J (2018) Investigating the Ca2+-dependent and Ca2+-independent mechanisms for mammalian cone light adaptation. Sci Rep 8:15864
Kiser, Philip D; Zhang, Jianye; Sharma, Aditya et al. (2018) Retinoid isomerase inhibitors impair but do not block mammalian cone photoreceptor function. J Gen Physiol 150:571-590
Vinberg, Frans; Peshenko, Igor V; Chen, Jeannie et al. (2018) Guanylate cyclase-activating protein 2 contributes to phototransduction and light adaptation in mouse cone photoreceptors. J Biol Chem 293:7457-7465
Xue, Yunlu; Sato, Shinya; Razafsky, David et al. (2017) The role of retinol dehydrogenase 10 in the cone visual cycle. Sci Rep 7:2390
Potter, Chloe; Zhu, Wanqiu; Razafsky, David et al. (2017) Multiple Isoforms of Nesprin1 Are Integral Components of Ciliary Rootlets. Curr Biol 27:2014-2022.e6
Sato, Shinya; Frederiksen, Rikard; Cornwall, M Carter et al. (2017) The retina visual cycle is driven by cis retinol oxidation in the outer segments of cones. Vis Neurosci 34:E004
Vinberg, Frans; Wang, Tian; De Maria, Alicia et al. (2017) The Na+/Ca2+, K+ exchanger NCKX4 is required for efficient cone-mediated vision. Elife 6:
Kolesnikov, Alexander V; Orban, Tivadar; Jin, Hui et al. (2017) Dephosphorylation by protein phosphatase 2A regulates visual pigment regeneration and the dark adaptation of mammalian photoreceptors. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 114:E9675-E9684

Showing the most recent 10 out of 58 publications