PublicatiesDark-adapted light response in mice is regulated by a circadian clock located in rod photoreceptors
The retinal circadian system consists of a network of clocks located virtually in every retinal cell-type. Although it is established that the circadian clock regulates many rhythmic processes in the retina, the links between retinal cell-specific clocks and visual function remain to be elucidated. Bmal1 is a principal, non-redundant component of the circadian clock in mammals and is required to keep 24 h rhythms in the retinal transcriptome and in visual processing under photopic light condition. In the current study, we investigated the retinal function in mice with a rod-specific knockout of Bmal1. For this purpose, we measured whole retina PER2::Luciferase bioluminescence and the dark-adapted electroretinogram (ERG). We observed circadian day-night differences in ERG a- and b-waves in control mice carrying one allele of Bmal1 in rods, with higher amplitudes during the subjective night. These differences were abolished in rod-specific Bmal1 knock out mice, whose ERG light-responses remained constitutively low (day-like). Overall, PER2::Luciferase rhythmicity in whole retinas was not defective in these mice but was characterized by longer period and higher rhythmic power compared to retinas with wild type Bmal1 gene. Taken together, these data suggest that a circadian clock located in rods regulates visual processing in a cell autonomous manner.