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Keywords:

  • amacrine cell;
  • connexin45;
  • dye coupling;
  • GABAergic;
  • light response

Abstract

Mammalian retinas comprise an enormous variety of amacrine cells with distinct properties and functions. The present paper describes a new interplexiform amacrine cell type in the mouse retina. A transgenic mouse mutant was used that expressed the gene for the enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP) instead of the coding DNA of connexin45 in several retinal cell classes, among which a single amacrine cell population was most prominently labelled. Staining for EGFP and different marker proteins showed that these amacrine cells are interplexiform: they stratify in stratum S4/5 of the inner plexiform layer and send processes to the outer plexiform layer. These cells were termed IPA-S4/5 cells. They belong to the group of medium-field amacrine cells and are coupled homologously and heterologously to other amacrine cells by connexin45. Immunostaining revealed that IPA-S4/5 cells are GABAergic and express GAT-1, a plasma-membrane-bound GABA transporter possibly involved in non-vesicular GABA release. To characterize the light responses of IPA-S4/5 cells, patch-clamp recordings in retinal slices were made. Consistent with their stratification in the ON sublamina of the inner plexiform layer, cells depolarized in response to light ON stimuli and transiently hyperpolarized in response to light OFF. Responses of cells to green (578 nm) and blue (400 nm) light suggest that they receive input from cone bipolar cells contacting both M- and S-cones, possibly with reduced S-cone input. A new type of interplexiform ON amacrine cell is described, which is strongly coupled and uses GABA but not dopamine as its neurotransmitter.