• connexin57;
  • gap junction;
  • horizontal cell;
  • receptive field;
  • retina


Horizontal cells are coupled by gap junctions; the extensive coupling of the horizontal cells is reflected in their large receptive fields, which extend far beyond the dendritic arbor of the individual cell. In the mouse retina, horizontal cells express connexin57 (Cx57). Tracer coupling of horizontal cells is impaired in Cx57-deficient mice, which suggests that the receptive fields of Cx57-deficient horizontal cells might be similarly reduced. To test this hypothesis we measured the receptive fields of horizontal cells from wildtype and Cx57-deficient mice. First, we examined the synaptic connections between horizontal cells and photoreceptors: no major morphological alterations were found. Moreover, horizontal cell spacing and dendritic field size were unaffected by Cx57 deletion. We used intracellular recordings to characterize horizontal cell receptive fields. Length constants were computed for each cell using the cell's responses to concentric light spots of increasing diameter. The length constant was dependent on the intensity of the stimulus: increasing stimulus intensity reduced the length constant. Deletion of Cx57 significantly reduced horizontal cell receptive field size. Dark resting potentials were strongly depolarized and response amplitudes reduced in Cx57-deficient horizontal cells compared to the wildtype, suggesting an altered input resistance. This was confirmed by patch-clamp recordings from dissociated horizontal cells; mean input resistance of Cx57-deficient horizontal cells was 27% lower than that of wildtype cells. These data thus provide the first quantification of mouse horizontal cell receptive field size and confirm the unique role of Cx57 in horizontal cell coupling and physiology.