Blue-cone monochromacy (BCM) is an X-linked condition in which long- (L−) and middle- (M−) wavelength-sensitive cone function is absent. Due to the X-linked nature of the condition, female carriers are spared from a full manifestation of the associated defects but can show visual symptoms, including abnormal cone electroretinograms. Here we imaged the cone mosaic in four females carrying an L/M array with deletion of the locus control region, resulting in an absence of L/M opsin gene expression (effectively acting as a cone opsin knockout). On average, they had cone mosaics with reduced density and disrupted organization compared to normal trichromats. This suggests that the absence of opsin in a subset of cones results in their early degeneration, with X-inactivation the likely mechanism underlying phenotypic variability in BCM carriers.
Keywords: adaptive optics, blue cone monochromacy, color vision, cones, opsin, photopigment