Photo of Catherine W. Morgans, Ph.D.

Catherine W. Morgans Ph.D.

  •      (503) 418-2675
    • Associate Professor of Physiology and Pharmacology School of Medicine
    • Graduate Program in Biomedical Sciences School of Medicine

Research in the Morgans lab is aimed at elucidating the molecular events underlying synaptic transmission in the retina. Specifically, Dr. Morgans' research focuses on specialized synapses connecting photoreceptor cells to bipolar cells, which represent the first stage of image processing in the visual system. Retinal photoreceptors are the light detecting neurons of the visual system. They release the neurotransmitter, glutamate, and modulate the rate of release in response to changes in light intensity; this in turn elicits a response in the bipolar cells. The Morgans lab as is studying proteins essential to this process. These include the retina-specific calcium channel, Cav1.4, which regulates glutamate release from photoreceptors; and the mGluR6 glutamate receptor and TRPM1 cation channel, which are both required for the bipolar cell response to glutamate. The genes encoding these proteins are known sites of mutations causing congenital visual disease in humans. The Morgans lab uses mice genetically modified to disrupt the function of these and other retinal proteins to gain insight into discrete steps in photoreceptor to bipolar cell transmission in both healthy and disease states. The lab employs a multidisciplinary approach, combining immunohistochemical, biochemical and electrophysiological techniques to pursue a comprehensive understanding of the structural organization and physiology of the photoreceptor to bipolar cell synapse.


  • "TRPM3 expression in mouse retina" PLoS One February 13 2015
  • "Calcium channel heterogeneity among cone photoreceptors in the tree shrew retina" European Journal of Neuroscience August 1999
  • "Calcium extrusion from mammalian photoreceptor terminals" Journal of Neuroscience April 1 1998
  • "SNAP-25 is present on the Golgi apparatus of retinal neurons" NeuroReport January 17 2000
  • "Diagnosis of occult melanoma using transient receptor potential melastatin 1 (TRPM1) autoantibody testing" Ophthalmology December 2013
  • "Distribution of the presynaptic calcium sensors, synaptotagmin I/II and synaptotagmin III, in the goldfish and rodent retinas" Journal of Vision May 22 2003
  • "Role of the β2 subunit of voltage-dependent calcium channels in the retinal outer plexiform layer" Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science  2002
  • "The effect of PKCα on the light response of rod bipolar cells in the mouse retina" Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science  2015
  • "SNAP25 expression in mammalian retinal horizontal cells" Journal of Comparative Neurology April 1 2011
  • "Molecular identity, synaptic localization, and physiology of calcium channels in retinal bipolar cells" Journal of Neuroscience Research January 1 2003
  • "R9AP stabilizes RGS11-Gβ5 and accelerates the early light response of ON-bipolar cells" Visual Neuroscience March 2010
  • "Retinal morphological and functional changes in an animal model of retinitis pigmentosa" Visual Neuroscience May 2013
  • "Generation, identification and functional characterization of the nob4 mutation of Grm6 in the mouse" Visual Neuroscience January 2007
  • "Loss of the synaptic vesicle protein SV2B results in reduced neurotransmission and altered synaptic vesicle protein expression in the retina" PLoS One April 17 2009
  • "Serum TRPM1 Autoantibodies from Melanoma Associated Retinopathy Patients Enter Retinal ON-Bipolar Cells and Attenuate the Electroretinogram in Mice" PLoS One August 1 2013
  • "Calcium-induced calcium release contributes to synaptic release from mouse rod photoreceptors" Neuroscience February 17 2010
  • "LRIT3 is essential to localize TRPM1 to the dendritic tips of depolarizing bipolar cells and may play a role in cone synapse formation" European Journal of Neuroscience August 1 2015
  • "Simultaneous visualization and cell-specific confirmation of RNA and protein in the mouse retina" Molecular Vision September 21 2014
  • "The postnatal development of D-serine in the retinas of two mouse strains, including a mutant mouse with a deficiency in D-amino acid oxidase and a serine racemase knockout mouse" ACS Chemical Neuroscience September 17 2014
  • "Localization of the α1F calcium channel subunit in the rat retina" Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science  2001
  • "Generation of truncated brain AE3 isoforms by alternate mRNA processing" Journal of Cell Science  1993
  • "AE3 anion exchanger isoforms in the vertebrate retina" Journal of Neuroscience October 1994
  • "Localization of nyctalopin in the mammalian retina" European Journal of Neuroscience March 2006
  • "Ionic mechanisms mediating oscillatory membrane potentials in wide-field retinal amacrine cells" Journal of Neurophysiology July 1 2003
  • "Anatomical, physiological, and behavioral analysis of rodent vision"   2011
  • "Retinal NMDA receptor function and expression are altered in a mouse lacking D-amino acid oxidase" Journal of Neurophysiology December 15 2013
  • "Rod bipolar cells and horizontal cells form displaced synaptic contacts with rods in the outer nuclear layer of the nob2 retina" Journal of Comparative Neurology January 10 2007
  • "All ON pathways are not alike" Journal of Physiology April 1 2015
  • "Photoreceptor calcium channels" Visual Neuroscience September 2005
  • "The nob2 mouse, a null mutation in Cacna1f" Visual Neuroscience January 2006

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