Phototransduction is a process in which light is converted into electrical signals used by the central nervous system. Invertebrate phototransduction is a process mediated by the phosphoinositide signaling cascade, characterized by Phospholipase C (PLC) as the effector enzyme and the Transient Receptor Potential (TRP) channels as its target. The great advantage of using invertebrate photoreceptors is the simplicity of the preparation, the ease of light stimulation, the robust expression of key molecular components, and most importantly, the ability to apply the power of molecular genetics. This last feature is mainly attributed to Drosophila Melanogaster as a preferred animal model.
The Electroretinogram (ERG) is an extracellular voltage recording from the entire eye, which reflects the total electrical activity arising from the retina in response to a light stimulation. The Drosophila ERG light response is robust and easily obtained, thus making it a convenient method to identify defects in the light response as a result of mutations. The Prolonged Depolarizing Afterpotential (PDA) is a useful ERG phenomenon that can be recorded from white-eyed flies following intense blue light. It is induced by a massive photo-conversion of the photopigment rhodopsin to its dark stable state called metarhodopsin, due to failure of light response termination. Unlike the light coincident ERG recording, which declines quickly to the dark baseline after the cessation of the light stimulus, the PDA response continues long (hours) after light offset. However, this response can be suppressed to the dark baseline at any time by photo-conversion of metarhodopsin back to rhodopsin, by application of an intense orange light stimulus (see Figure 7; Minke, 2012). The PDA has been used as an important tool to screen for visual defective mutant (Minke, 2012).
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