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Keywords:

  • retina;
  • inner plexiform layer;
  • connectomics;
  • circuitry;
  • neural network;
  • bipolar cell;
  • axonal ribbon;
  • axonal cistern;
  • amacrine cell;
  • bistratified diving ganglion cell;
  • intrinsically photosensitive ganglion cell;
  • crossover inhibition;
  • within channel inhibition;
  • ON–OFF cross-talk;
  • functional network;
  • structure–function;
  • network topology

Abstract

Analysis of the rabbit retinal connectome RC1 reveals that the division between the ON and the OFF inner plexiform layer (IPL) is not structurally absolute. ON cone bipolar cells make noncanonical axonal synapses onto specific targets and receive amacrine cell synapses in the nominal OFF layer, creating novel motifs, including inhibitory crossover networks. Automated transmission electron microscopic imaging, molecular tagging, tracing, and rendering of ∼400 bipolar cells reveals axonal ribbons in 36% of ON cone bipolar cells, throughout the OFF IPL. The targets include γ-aminobutyrate (GABA)-positive amacrine cells (γACs), glycine-positive amacrine cells (GACs), and ganglion cells. Most ON cone bipolar cell axonal contacts target GACs driven by OFF cone bipolar cells, forming new architectures for generating ON–OFF amacrine cells. Many of these ON–OFF GACs target ON cone bipolar cell axons, ON γACs, and/or ON–OFF ganglion cells, representing widespread mechanisms for OFF to ON crossover inhibition. Other targets include OFF γACs presynaptic to OFF bipolar cells, forming γAC-mediated crossover motifs. ON cone bipolar cell axonal ribbons drive bistratified ON–OFF ganglion cells in the OFF layer and provide ON drive to polarity-appropriate targets such as bistratified diving ganglion cells (bsdGCs). The targeting precision of ON cone bipolar cell axonal synapses shows that this drive incidence is necessarily a joint distribution of cone bipolar cell axonal frequency and target cell trajectories through a given volume of the OFF layer. Such joint distribution sampling is likely common when targets are sparser than sources and when sources are coupled, as are ON cone bipolar cells. J. Comp. Neurol. 521:977–1000, 2013. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.