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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008 Sep 9;105(36):13638-43. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0807178105. Epub 2008 Aug 29.

Retinal waves in mice lacking the beta2 subunit of the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor.

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Departments of Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior, and Ophthalmology and Vision Science, University of California, Davis, CA 95616, USA.


The structural and functional properties of the visual system are disrupted in mutant animals lacking the beta2 subunit of the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor. In particular, eye-specific retinogeniculate projections do not develop normally in these mutants. It is widely thought that the developing retinas of beta2(-/-) mutants do not manifest correlated activity, leading to the notion that retinal waves play an instructional role in the formation of eye-specific retinogeniculate projections. By multielectrode array recordings, we show here that the beta2(-/-) mutants have robust retinal waves during the formation of eye-specific projections. Unlike in WT animals, however, the mutant retinal waves are propagated by gap junctions rather than cholinergic circuitry. These results indicate that lack of retinal waves cannot account for the abnormalities that have been documented in the retinogeniculate pathway of the beta2(-/-) mutants and suggest that other factors must contribute to the deficits in the visual system that have been noted in these animals.

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