Functional architecture of mammalian horizontal cells

Feng Pan, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


In the rabbit retina, there are two kinds of horizontal cells (HCs). The A-type HC is a large axonless cell which contacts cones exclusively. The B-type HC is an axon bearing cell. While the somatic dendrites of B-type HCs also contact cones, the axon expands into an elaborately branched structure, the axon terminal (AT), which contacts a large number of rods. It is difficult to label the different HCs selectively by immunochemical methods. Therefore, we developed dye injection methods to label each type of HC. Then it was possible, (1) to describe the detailed structure of the AT (2) to identify the glutamate receptors mediating cone input to A and B-type HCs and rod input to ATs and (3) to test the hypothesis that the B-type HCs are coupled via Cx57 gap junctions. To obtain well filled examples of single HCs, it was necessary to block gap junction coupling to stop the spread of Neurobiotin through the network. We used dye coupling in A-type HCs to screen a series of potential gap junction antagonists. One of these compounds, meclofenamic acid (MFA), was potent, water soluble and easily reversible. This compound may be a useful tool to manipulate gap junction coupling. In the presence of MFA, Neurobiotin passed down the axon of B-type HCs to reveal the detailed structure of the AT. We observed that only one AT ending entered each rod spherule invagination. This observation was confirmed by calculation and two dye injections. Glutamate is the neurotransmitter used by both rods and cones. AMPA receptors were colocalized with the dendrites of A and B-type HCs at each cone pedicle. In addition, AMPA receptors were located on the AT ending at each rod spherule. Thus rod and cone input to HCs is mediated by AMPA receptors. A-type and B-type HCs may express different connexins because they have different dye-coupling properties. Recently, we found that connexin50 (Cx50) is expressed by A-type HCs. B-type HCs and B-type ATs are also independently coupled. Cx57 was expressed in the OPL and double label studies showed that Cx 57 was colocalized with the AT matrix but not with the somatic dendrites of B-type HCs. In summary, we have identified a useful gap junction antagonist, MFA. There is one AT ending at each rod spherule, rods inputs to ATs is mediated by AMPA receptors and coupling in the AT matrix is mediated by Cx57. This confirms that HCs with different properties use distinct connexins. The properties of ATs described in this research are consistent. The connections and properties reported here suggest that ATs functions as rod HCs and provide a negative feedback signal to rods.

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

Pan, Feng, "Functional architecture of mammalian horizontal cells" (2008). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3318661.