Evidence for two apoptotic pathways in light-induced retinal degeneration
Excessive phototransduction signaling is thought to be involved in light-induced and inherited retinal degeneration. Using knockout mice with defects in rhodopsin shut-off and transducin signaling, we show that two different pathways of photoreceptor-cell apoptosis are induced by light. Bright light induces apoptosis that is independent of transducin and accompanied by induction of the transcription factor AP-1. By contrast, low light induces an apoptotic pathway that requires transducin. We also provide evidence that additional genetic factors regulate sensitivity to light-induced damage. Our use of defined mouse mutants resolves some of the complexity underlying the mechanisms that regulate susceptibility to retinal degeneration.