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Vis Neurosci. 1995 Nov-Dec;12(6):1093-1103.

The modulatory cholinergic system in goldfish tectum may be necessary for retinotopic sharpening.

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Department of Biological Science and Neurobiology Research Center, State University of New York at Albany 12222, USA.

Erratum in

  • Vis Neurosci 1996 May-Jun;13(3):597.


The cholinergic circuit within the tectum and the cholinergic input from the nucleus isthmi mediate a presynaptic augmentation of retinotectal transmitter release via nicotinic receptors. In this study, the cholinergic systems were either eliminated using the cholinergic neurotoxin AF64A or blocked using nicotinic antagonists to test for effects on the activity-driven sharpening of the regenerating retinotectal projection. The effectiveness of the AF64A was verified by recording field potentials elicited by optic tract stimulation and by immunohistochemical staining for choline acetyltransferase (ChAT). At 1 week after intracranial (IC) injection of AF64A (12 to 144 nmoles) into the fluid above the tectum, field potentials showed a selective dose-dependent decrement of the cholinergic polysynaptic component with no effect on the amplitude of the glutamatergic monosynaptic component. The decrement was only partially recovered in recordings at 2 and 6 weeks. In normal fish, the ChAT antibody stains a population of periventricular neurons, their apical dendrites, and a dense plexus within the optic terminal lamina that consists of their local axons and fine dendrites and of input fibers from the nucleus isthmi. One week after IC AF64A injection (48-72 nmoles), most immunostaining in superficial tectum was lost but most neuronal somas in the deep tectum could still be seen, and staining in the tegmentum below the tectum was completely intact. At 2 weeks and later, the staining of neuronal somata largely recovered, but staining of the superficial plexus did not. AF64A treatment at 18 days after nerve crush, when regenerating retinal fibers are beginning to form synapses, prevented retinotopic sharpening of the projection. Recordings showed a rough retinotopic map on the tectum but the multiunit receptive fields (MURFs) at each tectal point averaged 34 deg vs. 11 deg in vehicle-injected control regenerates. AF64A treatment before nerve crush also blocked sharpening, ruling out a direct effect on retinal growth cones or retinal fibers, as AF64A rapidly decomposes, whereas its effect on the cholinergic fibers is long-lasting. IC injection or minipump infusion of the nicotine antagonists alpha-bungarotoxin (alpha BTX), neuronal bungarotoxin (nBTX), and pancuronium during regeneration also prevented sharpening (MURFs averaging 29.4 deg, 33.0 deg, and 31.4 deg, respectively). Control Ringer's solution infusions or injections over the same period (19-37 days postcrush) had no effect on regenerated MURF size (11.7 deg). The results show that the cholinergic innervation, which modulates transmitter release, is required for activity-driven retinotopic sharpening, thought to be triggered by NMDA receptor activation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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