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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1995 Nov 7;92(23):10658-62.

An alternative pathway for signal flow from rod photoreceptors to ganglion cells in mammalian retina.

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Department of Neurobiology, Stanford University Medical School, CA 94305, USA.


Rod signals in the mammalian retina are thought to reach ganglion cells over the circuit rod-->rod depolarizing bipolar cell-->AII amacrine cell-->cone bipolar cells-->ganglion cells. A possible alternative pathway involves gap junctions linking the rods and cones, the circuit being rod-->cone-->cone bipolar cells-->ganglion cells. It is not clear whether this second pathway indeed relays rod signals to ganglion cells. We studied signal flow in the isolated rabbit retina with a multielectrode array, which allows the activity of many identified ganglion cells to be observed simultaneously while the preparation is stimulated with light and/or exposed to drugs. When transmission between rods and rod depolarizing bipolar cells was blocked by the glutamate agonist 2-amino-4-phosphonobutyric acid (APB), rod input to all On-center and briskly responding Off-center ganglion cells was dramatically reduced as expected. Off responses persisted, however, in Off-center sluggish and On-Off direction-selective ganglion cells. Presumably these responses were generated by the alternative pathway involving rod-cone junctions. This APB-resistant pathway may carry the major rod input to Off-center sluggish and On-Off direction-selective ganglion cells.

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