• horizontal cell;
  • phototransduction;
  • synaptic transmission;
  • transmitter release


Ca2+ plays crucial roles in both phototransduction and calcium-dependent glutamate release from the photoreceptor terminal. Modulation, by lowering extracellular Ca2+, of red-sensitive (R-) and short wavelength-sensitive (S-) cone-driven light responses of L-type horizontal cells (LHCs) was studied in the isolated superfused carp retina using intracellular recording techniques. Low Ca2+ (nominally Ca2+-free) Ringer's reduced responses of LHCs to both green (500 nm) and red (680 nm) flashes in darkness, with the former being suppressed more substantially than the latter. This differential suppression became more significant when contribution of R-cones to the green-light-induced responses was diminished by a moderate red (680 nm) background light. Application of IBMX, an inhibitor of phosphodiesterase (PDE), increased LHC responses to both red and green flashes equally, resembling the effect of low Ca2+ on phototransduction. In addition, photopic electroretinographic P III responses, reflecting the activity of cones, to red flashes were more potentiated by low Ca2+, compared to those to green flashes, whilst they were both equally potentiated by IBMX. Furthermore, low Ca2+ caused a more pronounced suppression of LHC responses to red flashes than those to green flashes in the presence of IBMX. It is postulated that reduction of LHC responses in low Ca2+ may be due to the ‘saturation suppression’ caused by the increased glutamate release from the photoreceptor terminal and the differential modulation may reflect a consequence of the dual action of low Ca2+ on the PDE activity in the photoreceptor outer segment and the synaptic strength between cones and LHCs.