Photoreceptor potentials were recorded extracellularly from the aspartate-treated, isolated retina of the skate (Raja oscellata and R. erinacea), and the effects of externally applied retinal were studied both electrophysiologically and spectrophotometrically. In the absence of applied retinal, strong light adaptation leads to an irreversible depletion of rhodopsin and a sustained elevation of receptor threshold. For example, after the bleaching of 60% of the rhodopsin initially present in dark-adapted receptors, the threshold of the receptor response stabilizes at a level about 3 log units above the dark-adapted value. The application of 11-cis retinal to strongly light-adapted photoreceptors induces both a rapid, substantial lowering of receptor threshold and a shift of the entire intensity-response curve toward greater sensitivity. Exogenous 11-cis retinal also promotes the formation of rhodopsin in bleached photoreceptors with a time-course similar to that of the sensitization measured electrophysiologically. All-trans and 13-cis retinal, when applied to strongly light-adapted receptors, fail to promote either an increase in receptor sensitivity or the formation of significant amounts of light-sensitive pigment within the receptors. However, 9-cis retinal isin. These findings provide strong evidence that the regeneration of visual pigment in the photoreceptors directly regulates the process of photochemical dark adaptation.

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