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Cryptochromes 1 and 2 (CRY1/2) are key components of the negative limb of the mammalian circadian clock. Like many peripheral tissues, Cry1 and -2 are expressed in the retina, where they are thought to play a role in regulating rhythmic physiology. However, studies differ in consensus as to their localization and function, and CRY1 immunostaining has not been convincingly demonstrated in the retina. Here we describe the expression and function of CRY1 and -2 in the mouse retina in both sexes. Unexpectedly, we show that CRY1 is expressed throughout all retinal layers, whereas CRY2 is restricted to the photoreceptor layer. Retinal PERIOD2::LUCIFERASE recordings from CRY1-deficient mice show reduced clock robustness and stability, while those from CRY2-deficient mice show normal, albeit long-period, rhythms. In functional studies, we then investigated well-defined rhythms in retinal physiology. Rhythms in the photopic electroretinogram, contrast sensitivity, and pupillary light response were all severely attenuated or abolished in CRY1-deficient mice. In contrast, these physiological rhythms are largely unaffected in mice lacking CRY2, and only photopic electroretinogram rhythms are affected. Together, our data suggest that CRY1 is an essential component of the mammalian retinal clock, whereas CRY2 has a more limited role.-Wong, J. C. Y., Smyllie, N. J., Banks, G. T., Pothecary, C. A., Barnard, A. R., Maywood, E. S., Jagannath, A., Hughes, S., van der Horst, G. T. J., MacLaren, R. E., Hankins, M. W., Hastings, M. H., Nolan, P. M., Foster, R. G., Peirson, S. N. Differential roles for cryptochromes in the mammalian retinal clock.

Original publication




Journal article


FASEB journal : official publication of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology

Publication Date



fj201701165RR - fj201701165RR


Sleep and Circadian Neuroscience Institute, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom.