A Multi-Stage Color Model Revisited: Implications for a Gene Therapy Cure for Red-Green Colorblindness
In 1993, DeValois and DeValois proposed a ‘multi-stage color model’ to explain how the cortex is ultimately able to deconfound the responses of neurons receiving input from three cone types in order to produce separate red-green and blue-yellow systems, as well as segregate luminance percepts (black-white) from color. This model extended the biological implementation of Hurvich and Jameson’s Opponent-Process Theory of color vision, a two-stage model encompassing the three cone types combined in a later opponent organization, which has been the accepted dogma in color vision. DeValois’ model attempts to satisfy the long-remaining question of how the visual system separates luminance information from color, but what are the cellular mechanisms that establish the complicated neural wiring and higher-order operations required by the Multi-stage Model? During the last decade and a half, results from molecular biology have shed new light on the evolution of primate color vision, thus constraining the possibilities for the visual circuits. The evolutionary constraints allow for an extension of DeValois’ model that is more explicit about the biology of color vision circuitry, and it predicts that human red-green colorblindness can be cured using a retinal gene therapy approach to add the missing photopigment, without any additional changes to the post-synaptic circuitry.
Supported by the National Institutes of Health grants R01EY016861, R01EY09303, and Research to Prevent Blindness.