Missing optomotor head turning reflex in the DBA/2J mouse

This paper by Peter Barabas, Wei Huang, Hui Chen, Christopher L. Koehler, Gareth Howell, Simon W.M. John, Ning Tian, René C Rentería and David Križaj is an outcome of an attempt to follow glaucoma progression in the DBA/2J mouse model of a naturally occurring, late onset form of glaucoma.  Ideally, a non-invasive technique should be used and in this case, they used a device to take advantage of the optomotor head turning reflex to assess progressive loss of vision.  This reflex is very similar to the involuntary rotation of the eye in response to a rotating visual stimulus and it is present in all animals from fish to mammals (including humans).  Interestingly, the DBA/2J strain was found to utterly lack this reflex.

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Notable Paper: Structural basis of PIP2 activation of the classical inward rectifier K+ channel Kir2.2

The inward rectifying K+ channels (IRKs) are common ion channels that encompass seven distinct subtypes, each a potential target for pathology or a potential actor in various insults to the nervous system, the retina included.  IRKs in the retina are found in Müller glia, retinal pigment epithelium and on neurons in retina, so are fundamental to retinal physiology.  However, their function and mechanisms of action have largely been unknown. Continue reading “Notable Paper: Structural basis of PIP2 activation of the classical inward rectifier K+ channel Kir2.2”