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Curr Biol. 2017 Sep 11;27(17):2600-2609.e4. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2017.07.063. Epub 2017 Aug 24.

Dopamine Regulation of GABAA Receptors Contributes to Light/Dark Modulation of the ON-Cone Bipolar Cell Receptive Field Surround in the Retina.

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Department of Neuroscience, The Ohio State University College Of Medicine, Columbus, OH 43210, USA.
Department of Neuroscience, The Ohio State University College Of Medicine, Columbus, OH 43210, USA. Electronic address:


Cone bipolar cells are interneurons that receive synaptic input from cone photoreceptor cells and provide the output of the first synaptic layer of the retina. These cells exhibit center-surround receptive fields, a prototype of lateral inhibition between neighboring sensory cells in which stimulation of the receptive field center excites the cell whereas stimulation of the surrounding region laterally inhibits the cell. This fundamental sensory coding mechanism facilitates spatial discrimination and detection of stimulus edges. However, although it is well established that the receptive field surround is strongest when ambient or background illumination is most intense, e.g., at midday, and that the surround is minimal following maintained darkness, the synaptic mechanisms that produce and modulate the surround have not been resolved. Using electrical recording of bipolar cells under experimental conditions in which the cells exhibited surround light responses, and light and electron microscopic immunocytochemistry, we show in the rabbit retina that bright-light-induced activation of dopamine D1 receptors located on ON-center cone bipolar cell dendrites increases the expression and activity of GABAA receptors on the dendrites of the cells and that surround light responses depend on endogenous GABAA receptor activation. We also show that maintained darkness and D1 receptor blockade following maintained illumination and D1 receptor activation result in minimal GABAA receptor expression and activity and greatly diminished surrounds. Modulation of the D1/GABAA receptor signaling pathway of ON-cBC dendrites by the ambient light level facilitates detection of spatial details on bright days and large dim objects on moonless nights.


GABA(A) receptors; bipolar cells; dark adaptation; dopamine D(1) receptors; horizontal cells; lateral inhibition; light adaptation; receptive field surround; retina; spatial resolution

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