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In vertebrates, the photoreceptor cells are the basic sensory apparatus of the retina, primarily converting photon energy absorbed from light into neuronal signals. The photoreceptor proximal outer segments are synthesized daily by cell bodies, and outer segment tips are removed with a circadian rhythm. The shed outer segments are endocytosed by adjacent retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells, and are recycled to photoreceptors. The receptor tyrosine kinase MERTK protein is an approximately 120122 kDa (994 amino acids) protein expressed in RPEs. MERTK has a tyrosine kinase domain close to the Cterminal region and putative phosphorylation sites. Mutation of MERTK in the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) rat results in defective phagocytosis of photoreceptor outer segments by the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) and retinal degeneration, resulting in retinitis pigmentosa.