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Vision Res. 2012 Sep 1;68:48-58. doi: 10.1016/j.visres.2012.07.012. Epub 2012 Jul 27.

Ionotropic glutamate receptors mediate OFF responses in light-adapted ON bipolar cells.

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  • 1Cullen Eye Institute, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX 77030, United States.


Previous studies have suggested that photoreceptor synaptic inputs to depolarizing bipolar cells (DBCs or ON bipolar cells) are mediated by mGluR6 receptors and those to hyperpolarizing bipolar cells (HBCs or OFF bipolar cells) are mediated by AMPA/kainate receptors. Here we show that in addition to mGluR6 receptors which mediate the sign-inverting, depolarizing light responses, subpopulations of cone-dominated and rod/cone mixed DBCs use GluR4 AMPA receptors to generate a transient sign-preserving OFF response under light adapted conditions. These AMPA receptors are located at the basal junctions postsynaptic to rods and they are silent under dark-adapted conditions, as tonic glutamate release in darkness desensitizes these receptors. Light adaptation enhances rod-cone coupling and thus allows cone photocurrents with an abrupt OFF depolarization to enter the rods. The abrupt rod depolarization triggers glutamate activation of unoccupied AMPA receptors, resulting in a transient OFF response in DBCs. It has been widely accepted that the DNQX-sensitive, OFF transient responses in retinal amacrine cells and ganglion cells are mediated exclusively by HBCs. Our results suggests that this view needs revision as AMPA receptors in subpopulations of DBCs are likely to significantly contribute to the DNQX-sensitive OFF transient responses in light-adapted third- and higher-order visual neurons.

Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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