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J Neurosci. 2001 Jul 1;21(13):4543-50.

Voltage-dependent sodium channels are expressed in nonspiking retinal bipolar neurons.

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Department of Neurobiology and Behavior, State University of New York, Stony Brook, New York 11794-5230, USA.


Retinal bipolar neurons transmit visual information by means of graded synaptic potentials that spread to the synaptic terminal without sodium-dependent action potentials. Although action potentials are not involved, voltage-dependent sodium channels may enhance subthreshold depolarizing potentials in the dendrites and soma of bipolar cells, as they do in other CNS neurons. We report here that voltage-dependent sodium currents are observed in a subset of bipolar neurons from goldfish retina. Single-cell reverse transcriptase-PCR identified four different sodium channel alpha subunits in goldfish bipolar cells, putatively corresponding to the mammalian voltage-gated sodium channels Na(v)1.1, Na(v)1.2, Na(v)1.3, and Na(v)1.6. The amount of sodium current was largest in cells with smaller synaptic terminals, which probably represent cone bipolar cells. Localization of sodium channel immunoreactivity in goldfish retina confirmed the expression of voltage-gated sodium channels in cone bipolar cells of both ON and OFF types. Both immunocytochemical and physiological evidence suggests that the sodium channels are localized to the soma and dendrites where they may play a role in transmission of synaptic signals, particularly in the long, thin dendrites of cone bipolar cells.

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