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Vis Neurosci. 2010 Nov;27(5-6):159-70. doi: 10.1017/S0952523810000234. Epub 2010 Sep 21.

Dendritic morphology and tracer-coupling pattern of physiologically identified transient uniformity detector ganglion cells in rabbit retina.

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ARC Centre of Excellence in Vision Science, Queensland Brain Institute, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia.


Transient uniformity detectors (UDs) are a unique type of retinal ganglion cell (RGC) whose maintained firing is transiently suppressed by all types of visual stimuli. In this study, we have characterized the dendritic morphology and tracer-coupling pattern of UDs that were labeled by loose-seal electroporation of Neurobiotin following functional identification in the isolated rabbit retina. The UDs have a bistratified dendritic tree, branching near the margins of the inner plexiform layer in stratum 1 (part of the OFF sublamina) and stratum 4/5 (part of the ON sublamina). Characteristically, many of the distal dendrites in the OFF arbor do not terminate there but dive recurrently back to the ON arbor. As a consequence, the ON dendritic arbor is usually twice as large as the OFF dendritic arbor in area. The UDs sometimes show homologous tracer coupling to neighboring RGCs with the same morphology, and from this material, we estimate that the UDs have a threefold dendritic field overlap and a maximum density of ~100 cells/mm2 on the peak visual streak, accounting for ~2% of RGCs in rabbit retina. The UDs also show strong heterologous tracer coupling to a novel type of amacrine cell that costratifies with the ON arbor of the UD. Consistent with their unistratified medium-field morphology, these St4/5 amacrine cells appear to be GABAergic: their somata are immunopositive for GABA but immunonegative for glycine and glycine transporter 1. We compare the dendritic morphology of the UDs to that of other types of bistratified RGCs described in rabbit retina and note that the stratification levels and distinctive recurrent dendrites closely resemble those of the "ON bistratified diving" RGCs. This raises the possibility that there are two types of RGCs with distinctive physiological properties that have almost identical bistratified dendritic morphologies.

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