M1-Type, but Not M4-Type, Melanopsin Ganglion Cells Are Physiologically Tuned to the Central Circadian Clock
Frontiers in Neuroscience , Volume 15; doi:10.3389/fnins.2021.652996
Abstract: Proper circadian photoentrainment is crucial for the survival of many organisms. In mammals, intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells (ipRGCs) can use the photopigment melanopsin to sense light independently from rod and cone photoreceptors and send this information to many brain nuclei such as the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), the site of the central circadian pacemaker. Here, we measure ionic currents and develop mathematical models of the electrical activity of two types of ipRGCs: M1, which projects to the SCN, and M4, which does not. We illustrate how their ionic properties differ, mainly how ionic currents generate lower spike rates and depolarization block in M1 ipRGCs. Both M1 and M4 cells have large geometries and project to higher visual centers of the brain via the optic nerve. Using a partial differential equation model, we show how axons of M1 and M4 cells faithfully convey information from the soma to the synapse even when the signal at the soma is attenuated due to depolarization block. Finally, we consider an ionic model of circadian photoentrainment from ipRGCs synapsing on SCN neurons and show how the properties of M1 ipRGCs are tuned to create accurate transmission of visual signals from the retina to the central pacemaker, whereas M4 ipRGCs would not evoke nearly as efficient a postsynaptic response. This work shows how ipRGCs and SCN neurons' electrical activities are tuned to allow for accurate circadian photoentrainment.
Keywords: Circadian Rhythm / photoentrainment / Suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN) / Electrophysiological modeling / ipRGC (intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cell)
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