Color vision extracts spectral information by comparing signals from photoreceptors with different visual pigments. Such comparisons are encoded by color-opponent neurons that are excited at one wavelength and inhibited at another. Here, we examine the circuit implementation of color-opponent processing in the Drosophila visual system by combining two-photon calcium imaging with genetic dissection of visual circuits. We report that color-opponent processing of UVshort/blue and UVlong/green is already implemented in R7/R8 inner photoreceptor terminals of "pale" and "yellow" ommatidia, respectively. R7 and R8 photoreceptors of the same type of ommatidia mutually inhibit each other directly via HisCl1 histamine receptors and receive additional feedback inhibition that requires the second histamine receptor Ort. Color-opponent processing at the first visual synapse represents an unexpected commonality between Drosophila and vertebrates; however, the differences in the molecular and cellular implementation suggest that the same principles evolved independently.
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