Electroretinographic evidence for altered phototransduction gain and slowed recovery from photobleaches in albino mice with a MET450 variant in RPE65

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Our purpose was to investigate the physiological phenotype of albino mice with a variation in the Rpe65 gene encoding either methionine or leucine at amino acid #450. Full-field electroretinograms (ERGs) were recorded from C57BL/6J-c2J albino mice with MET450 and BALB/cByJ albino mice with LEU450. Recordings from pigmented mice (C57BL/6J) served as controls. Rod ERG a-waves were fitted with a model to estimate parameters of activation. Recovery of function following a photobleach was studied by monitoring the return to pre-bleach a- or b-wave amplitudes of the dark-adapted electroretinogram. The parameter, S, derived from the fit of the rod model, was significantly higher for albino mice compared to pigmented controls. Between the albino mice, S was highest for BALB/cByJ compared to C57BL/6J-c2J. The parameters td and RmP3 were not different across the three strains. The difference in S between the BALB/cByJ and C57BL/6J-c2J albino strains is interpreted to reflect differences in intrinsic phototransduction gain. Recovery from a photobleach was also slower for the C57BL/6J-c2J albino mice compared with BALB/cByJ albino mice, consistent with prior studies showing slowed rhodopsin regeneration in mice with the RPE65-METH450 variant. ERG recordings show that C57BL/6J-c2J albino mice with the MET450 variant of the RPE65 protein have a lower gain of activation and slower recovery from photobleach than do the BALB/cByJ albino mice with LEU450. Both the slower recovery from photobleach and lower gain of activation characteristic of the C57BL/6J-c2J strain may contribute to the mechanism by which it is protected from light-induced photoreceptor death relative to BALB/c.

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