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Int Rev Cytol. 2001;210:77-120.

Structure and function of photoreceptor and second-order cell mosaics in the retina of Xenopus.

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Department of General Zoology and Neurobiology, University of Pécs, Hungary.


The structure, physiology, synaptology, and neurochemistry of photoreceptors and second-order (horizontal and bipolar) cells of Xenopus laevis retina is reviewed. Rods represent 53% of the photoreceptors; the majority (97%) are green light-sensitive. Cones belong to large long-wavelength-sensitive (86%), large short-wavelength-sensitive (10%), and miniature ultraviolet wavelength-sensitive (4%) groups. Photoreceptors release glutamate tonically in darkness, hyperpolarize upon light stimulation and their transmitter release decreases. Photoreceptors form ribbon synapses with second-order cells where postsynaptic elements are organized into triads. Their overall adaptational status is regulated by ambient light conditions and set by the extracellular dopamine concentration. The activity of photoreceptors is under circadian control and is independent of the central body clock. Bipolar cell density is about 6000 cells/mm2 They receive mixed inputs from rods and cones. Some bipolar cell types violate the rule of ON-OFF segregation, giving off terminal branches in both sublayers of the inner plexiform layer. The majority of them contain glutamate, a small fraction is GABA-positive and accumulates serotonin. Luminosity-type horizontal cells are more frequent (approximately 1,000 cells/mm2) than chromaticity cells (approximately 450 cells/mm2). The dendritic field size of the latter type was threefold bigger than that of the former. Luminosity cells contact all photoreceptor types, whereas chromatic cells receive their inputs from the short-wavelength-sensitive cones and rods. Luminosity cells are involved in generating depolarizing responses in chromatic horizontal cells by red light stimulation which form multiple synapses with blue-light-sensitive cones. Calculations indicate that convergence ratios in Xenopus are similar to those in central retinal regions of mammals, predicting comparable spatial resolution.

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