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Front Cell Neurosci. 2015 Oct 6;9:389. doi: 10.3389/fncel.2015.00389. eCollection 2015.

Vesicular expression and release of ATP from dopaminergic neurons of the mouse retina and midbrain.

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Visual Neuroscience Laboratory, Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience, The University of Melbourne Parkville, VIC, Australia.
Polyclonal Antibody Development, R&D Antibody Development, EMD Millipore Temecula, CA, USA.


Vesicular nucleotide transporter (VNUT) is required for active accumulation of adenosine tri-phosphate (ATP) into vesicles for purinergic neurotransmission, however, the cell types that express VNUT in the central nervous system remain unknown. This study characterized VNUT expression within the mammalian retina and brain and assessed a possible functional role in purinergic signaling. Two native isoforms of VNUT were detected in mouse retina and brain based on RNA transcript and protein analysis. Using immunohistochemistry, VNUT was found to co-localize with tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) positive, dopaminergic (DA) neurons of the substantia nigra and ventral tegmental area, however, VNUT expression in extranigral non-DA neurons was also observed. In the retina, VNUT labeling was found to co-localize solely with TH-positive DA-cells. In the outer retina, VNUT-positive interplexiform cell processes were in close contact with horizontal cells and cone photoreceptor terminals, which are known to express P2 purinergic-receptors. In order to assess function, dissociated retinal neurons were loaded with fluorescent ATP markers (Quinacrine or Mant-ATP) and the DA marker FFN102, co-labeled with a VNUT antibody and imaged in real time. Fluorescent ATP markers and FFN102 puncta were found to co-localize in VNUT positive neurons and upon stimulation with high potassium, ATP marker fluorescence at the cell membrane was reduced. This response was blocked in the presence of cadmium. These data suggest DA neurons co-release ATP via calcium dependent exocytosis and in the retina this may modulate the visual response by activating purine receptors on closely associated neurons.


SLC17A9; dopamine; extracellular adenosine tri-phosphate (eATP); purinergic; retinal neurons; substantia nigra; ventral tegmental area (VTA); vesicular nucleotide transporter (VNUT)

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