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Considerable progress has been made in studying the receptive fields of the most common primate retinal ganglion cell (RGC) types, such as parasol RGCs. Much less is known about the rarer primate RGC types and the circuitry that gives rise to noncanonical receptive field structures. The goal of this study was to analyze synaptic inputs to smooth monostratified RGCs to determine the origins of their complex spatial receptive fields, which contain isolated regions of high sensitivity called "hotspots." Interestingly, smooth monostratified RGCs co-stratify with the well-studied parasol RGCs and are thus constrained to receiving input from bipolar and amacrine cells with processes sharing the same layer, raising the question of how their functional differences originate. Through 3D reconstructions of circuitry and synapses onto ON smooth monostratified and ON parasol RGCs from central macaque retina, we identified four distinct sampling strategies employed by smooth and parasol RGCs to extract diverse response properties from co-stratifying bipolar and amacrine cells. The two RGC types differed in the proportion of amacrine cell input, relative contributions of co-stratifying bipolar cell types, amount of synaptic input per bipolar cell, and spatial distribution of bipolar cell synapses. Our results indicate that the smooth RGC's complex receptive field structure arises through spatial asymmetries in excitatory bipolar cell input which formed several discrete clusters comparable with physiologically measured hotspots. Taken together, our results demonstrate how the striking differences between ON parasol and ON smooth monostratified RGCs arise from distinct strategies for sampling a common set of synaptic inputs.


Animals, Retinal Ganglion Cells, Retina, Synapses, Macaca


PMID: 38290840



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