Rod tetrameric arrestin 1 (tet-ARR1), stored in the outer nuclear layer/inner segments in the dark, modulates photoreceptor synaptic activity; light exposure stimulates a reduction via translocation to the outer segments for terminating G-protein coupled phototransduction signaling. Here, we test the hypothesis that intraretinal spin-lattice relaxation rate in the rotating frame (1/T1ρ), an endogenous MRI contrast mechanism, has high potential for evaluating rod tet-ARR1 and its reduction via translocation. Dark- and light-exposed mice (null for the ARR1 gene, overexpressing ARR1, diabetic, or wild type with or without treatment with Mn2+, a calcium channel probe) were studied using 1/T1ρ MRI. Immunohistochemistry and single-cell recordings of the retinas were also performed. In wild-type mice with or without treatment with Mn2+, 1/T1ρ of avascular outer retina (64% to 72% depth) was significantly (P < 0.05) greater in the dark than in the light; a significant (P < 0.05) but opposite pattern was noted in the inner retina (<50% depth). Light-evoked outer retina Δ1/T1ρ was absent in ARR1-null mice and supernormal in overexpressing mice. In diabetic mice, the outer retinal Δ1/T1ρ pattern suggested normal dark-to-light tet-ARR1 translocation and chromophore content, conclusions confirmed ex vivo. Light-stimulated Δ1/T1ρ in inner retina was linked to changes in blood volume. Our data support 1/T1ρ MRI for noninvasively assessing rod tet-ARR1 and its reduction via protein translocation, which can be combined with other metrics of retinal function in vivo.
- Magnetic resonance imaging
- Rod photoreceptors