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J Comp Neurol. 2005 Jan 31;482(1):85-93.

Gap-junction communication between subtypes of direction-selective ganglion cells in the developing retina.

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Vision, Touch and Hearing Research Centre, Queensland Brain Institute, School of Biomedical Sciences, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland 4072, Australia.


The On-Off direction-selective ganglion cells (DSGCs) in the rabbit retina comprise four distinct subtypes that respond preferentially to image motion in four orthogonal directions; each subtype forms a regular territorial array, which is overlapped by the other three arrays. In this study, ganglion cells in the developing retina were injected with Neurobiotin, a gap-junction-permeable tracer, and the DSGCs were identified by their characteristic type 1 bistratified (BiS1) morphology. The complex patterns of tracer coupling shown by the BiS1 ganglion cells changed systematically during the course of postnatal development. BiS1 cells appear to be coupled together around the time of birth, but, over the next 10 days, BiS1 cells decouple from each other, leading to the mature pattern in which only one subtype is coupled. At about postnatal day 5, before the ganglion cells become visually responsive, each of the BiS1 cells commonly showed tracer coupling both to a regular array of neighboring BiS1 cells, presumably destined to be DSGCs of the same subtype, and to a regular array of overlapping BiS1 cells, presumably destined to be DSGCs of a different subtype. The gap-junction intercellular communication between subtypes of DSGCs with different preferred directions may play an important role in the differentiation of their synaptic connectivity, with respect to either the inputs that DSGCs receive from retinal interneurons or the outputs that DSGCs make to geniculate neurons.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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