Clinical Profile Clinical Profile Clinical Profile ul
UCSF home page UCSF home page About UCSF UCSF Medical Center
UCSF navigation bar

Neuroscience Graduate Program at UCSF

Faculty - Felice Dunn, Ph.D.

Anatomy and function of retinal circuits under normal and disease states

Research Description

To restore vision, we must understand how information is processed in the mature retina and how structural and functional organization are affected during degeneration. The divergence of signals at the first synapse in the visual system, where a single cone provides input to 10-12 types of cone bipolar cells, provides a unique opportunity to study the origin of parallel pathways. This synapse also exhibits convergence, where each type of cone bipolar cell receives inputs from a stereotyped number of cones. 

Our recent work demonstrates that three types of cone bipolar cells establish their unique patterns of structural contact with presynaptic cone photoreceptors according to different strategies and segregated timelines. However, we know little about how these differences translate into functional properties in the mature circuit. Moreover, how cone bipolar cell types respond to progressive loss of photoreceptors during disease is unclear. 

The overall goal of our lab is to understand how visual information is parsed and processed in the retina at the cone-to-cone bipolar synapse and to determine how this information is perturbed in disease. We aim to determine the functional properties of 12 morphologically characterized bipolar cell types and to uncover how these bipolar cells change their structure and function in a degenerating retina. In pursuit of our goals, we will reveal how a bipolar cell’s functional properties are determined by its anatomical connections with cones and will provide an understanding of how bipolar cells respond to photoreceptor degeneration as a model of potential circuit rearrangements in retinal disease.

Back to Top

Current Projects

To determine how cone convergence and divergence shape the functional properties of different bipolar cell types.

To identify the effects of cone degeneration on bipolar cell structure, connectivity, and function.

Back to Top

Lab Members

currently hiring

Back to Top

Selected Publications

FA Dunn, L Della Santina, ED Parker, ROL Wong (2013) Sensory experience shapes the development of the visual system's first synapse. Neuron. 80(5): 1159-1166.

Schwartz, GW, H Okawa, FA Dunn, JL Morgan, D Kerschensteiner, ROL Wong, F Rieke (2012) The spatial structure of a nonlinear receptive field. Nature Neuroscience. 15: 1572-1580.

Dunn FA, ROL Wong (2012) Diverse strategies engaged in establishing stereotypic wiring patterns among neurons sharing a common input at the visual system's first synapse. Journal of Neuroscience. 32: 10306-10317.

Joseph J, FA Dunn, M Stopfer (2012) Spontaneous olfactory receptor neuron activity determines follower cell response properties. Journal of Neuroscience. 32: 2900-2910.

Dunn FA, F Rieke (2008) Single-photon absorptions evoke synaptic depression in the retina to extend the operational range of rod vision. Neuron. 57: 894-904.
·  Comment: Demb JB, von Gersdorff H (2008) Ultraweak signals can cause synaptic depression and adaptation. Neuron.57(6): 802- 804.

Dunn FA, MJ Lankheet, F Rieke (2007) Light adaptation in cone vision involves switching between receptor and post-receptor sites. Nature 449: 603-606.

Dunn FA, F Rieke (2006) The impact of photoreceptor noise on retinal gain controls. Current Opinions in Neurobiology. 16: 363-370.

Dunn FA, T Doan, AP Sampath, F Rieke (2006) Controlling the gain of rod-mediated signals in mammalian retina. Journal of Neuroscience. 26: 3959-3970.

Wong KY, FA Dunn, DM Berson (2005) Photoreceptor adaptation in intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells. Neuron. 48: 1001-1010.

Berson DM, FA Dunn, M Takao (2002) Phototransduction by retinal ganglion cells that set the circadian clock. Science. 295: 1070-1073.
·  Comment: Barinaga M (2002) Circadian clock. How the brain's clock gets daily enlightenment. Science. 295: 955-957.

Back to Top

Felice Dunn, Ph.D.




Office Address

UCSF MC 0730
10 Koret Way, Room K235
San Francisco, CA 94143

Other Websites

Lab Website