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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2007 Nov 27;104(48):19126-31. Epub 2007 Nov 19.

OFF ganglion cells cannot drive the optokinetic reflex in zebrafish.

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  • 1Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138-2020, USA.


Whereas the zebrafish retina has long been an important model system for developmental and genetic studies, little is known about the responses of the inner retinal neurons. Here we report single-unit ganglion cell recordings from 5- to 6-day-old zebrafish larvae. In wild-type larvae we identify at least five subtypes of ganglion cell responses to full-field illumination, with ON-OFF and ON-type cells predominating. In the nrc mutant retina, in which the photoreceptor terminals develop abnormally, we observe normal OFF responses but abnormal ON-OFF responses and no ON responses. Previously characterized as blind, these mutants lack an optokinetic reflex (OKR), but in another behavioral assay nrc mutant fish have near-normal responses to the offset of light and slow and sluggish responses to the onset of light. Pharmacological block of the ON pathway mimics most of the nrc visual defects. We conclude that the abnormal photoreceptor terminals in nrc mutants predominantly perturb the ON pathway and that the ON pathway is necessary to drive the OKR in larval zebrafish.

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