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J Neurophysiol. 1990 Apr;63(4):860-76.

Voltage- and transmitter-gated currents in isolated rod bipolar cells of rat retina.

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Max-Planck-Institut für Hirnforschung, Frankfurt a.M., Federal Republic of Germany.


1. Bipolar cells were isolated from adult rat retinas after enzymatic and mechanical treatment. The cells could be unequivocally identified from their morphology because of high retention of their axon and dendritic processes after isolation. 2. Protein kinase C (PKC) immunoreactivity performed on sections of the rat retina labeled rod bipolar cells and a few amacrine cells. Virtually all bipolar cells in the dissociates expressed PKC immunoreactivity and were, therefore, rod bipolar cells. 3. Rod bipolar cells were examined with the tight-seal whole-cell and excised-patch recording techniques. Resting potentials of the isolated cells recorded under current-clamp conditions showed a broad unimodal distribution around -37 mV. 4. Membrane depolarization from a holding potential of -90 mV resulted in an outward current. A fast sodium inward current was not observed. Membrane hyperpolarization from a holding potential of -40 mV activated an inwardly rectifying current. 5. gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA) and glycine, the putative retinal neurotransmitters that mediate the bipolar cells' receptive field surround in vivo, activated chloride conductances in almost all isolated bipolar cells. GABA- and glycine-evoked currents were both desensitizing and could be antagonized by the classical blockers bicuculline, picrotoxin, and strychnine, respectively. 6. Pressure application of the drugs from fine microcapillaries to various parts of the isolated cells suggests a high GABA sensitivity at the axonal endings compared with either the somatic or dendritic region. A similar distribution was not found for glycine. On the contrary, glycine-induced single-channel events with main conductances of 52 and 34 pS were recorded from membrane patches excised from the cells' somata. 7. Conductances induced by glutamate and several excitatory amino acid agonists were observed in a number of the cells. Application of the glutamate agonist 2-amino-4-phosphonobutyric acid (APB) induced an inward current at negative holding potentials associated with the opening of ion channels. In only 5 of 93 cells, APB closed ion channels, leading to a decrease in membrane conductance.

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