Glutamatergic neurotransmission from melanopsin retinal ganglion cells is required for neonatal photoaversion but not adult pupillary light reflex.
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0083974
Melanopsin-expressing retinal ganglion cells (mRGCs) in the eye play an important role in many light-activated non-image-forming functions including neonatal photoaversion and the adult pupillary light reflex (PLR). MRGCs rely on glutamate and possibly PACAP (pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating polypeptide) to relay visual signals to the brain. However, the role of these neurotransmitters for individual non-image-forming responses remains poorly understood. To clarify the role of glutamatergic signaling from mRGCs in neonatal aversion to light and in adult PLR, we conditionally deleted vesicular glutamate transporter (VGLUT2) selectively from mRGCs in mice. We found that deletion of VGLUT2 in mRGCs abolished negative phototaxis and light-induced distress vocalizations in neonatal mice, underscoring a necessary role for glutamatergic signaling. In adult mice, loss of VGLUT2 in mRGCs resulted in a slow and an incomplete PLR. We conclude that glutamatergic neurotransmission from mRGCs is required for neonatal photoaversion but is complemented by another non-glutamatergic signaling mechanism for the pupillary light reflex in adult mice. We speculate that this complementary signaling might be due to PACAP neurotransmission from mRGCs.