Glutamatergic Monopolar Interneurons Provide a Novel Pathway of Excitation in the Mouse Retina.
ABSTRACT: Excitatory and inhibitory neurons in the CNS are distinguished by several features, including morphology, transmitter content, and synapse architecture . Such distinctions are exemplified in the vertebrate retina. Retinal bipolar cells are polarized glutamatergic neurons receiving direct photoreceptor input, whereas amacrine cells are usually monopolar inhibitory interneurons with synapses almost exclusively in the inner retina . Bipolar but not amacrine cell synapses have presynaptic ribbon-like structures at their transmitter release sites. We identified a monopolar interneuron in the mouse retina that resembles amacrine cells morphologically but is glutamatergic and, unexpectedly, makes ribbon synapses. These glutamatergic monopolar interneurons (GluMIs) do not receive direct photoreceptor input, and their light responses are strongly shaped by both ON and OFF pathway-derived inhibitory input. GluMIs contact and make almost as many synapses as type 2 OFF bipolar cells onto OFF-sustained A-type (AOFF-S) retinal ganglion cells (RGCs). However, GluMIs and type 2 OFF bipolar cells possess functionally distinct light-driven responses and may therefore mediate separate components of the excitatory synaptic input to AOFF-S RGCs. The identification of GluMIs thus unveils a novel cellular component of excitatory circuits in the vertebrate retina, underscoring the complexity in defining cell types even in this well-characterized region of the CNS.
Project description:The developing retina generates spontaneous glutamatergic (stage III) waves of activity that sequentially recruit neighboring ganglion cells with opposite light responses (ON and OFF RGCs). This activity pattern is thought to help establish parallel ON and OFF pathways in downstream visual areas. The circuits that produce stage III waves and desynchronize ON and OFF RGC firing remain obscure. Using dual patch-clamp recordings, we find that ON and OFF RGCs receive sequential excitatory input from ON and OFF cone bipolar cells (CBCs), respectively. This input sequence is generated by crossover circuits, in which ON CBCs control glutamate release from OFF CBCs via diffusely stratified inhibitory amacrine cells. In addition, neighboring ON CBCs communicate directly and indirectly through lateral glutamatergic transmission and gap junctions, both of which are required for wave initiation and propagation. Thus, intersecting lateral excitatory and vertical inhibitory circuits give rise to precisely patterned stage III retinal waves.
Project description:Sensory neurons downstream of primary receptors are selective for specific stimulus features, and they derive their selectivity both from excitatory and inhibitory synaptic inputs from other neurons and from their own intrinsic properties. Electrical synapses, formed by gap junctions, modulate sensory circuits. Retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) are diverse feature detectors carrying visual information to the brain, and receive excitatory input from bipolar cells and inhibitory input from amacrine cells (ACs). Here we describe a RGC that relies on gap junctions, rather than chemical synapses, to convey its selectivity for the orientation of a visual stimulus. This represents both a new functional role of electrical synapses as the primary drivers of feature selectivity and a new circuit mechanism for orientation selectivity in the retina.
Project description:In the mammalian retina, bipolar cells and ganglion cells which stratify in sublamina a of the inner plexiform layer (IPL) show OFF responses to light stimuli while those that stratify in sublamina b show ON responses. This functional relationship between anatomy and physiology is a key principle of retinal organization. However, there are at least three types of retinal neurons, including intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells (ipRGCs) and dopaminergic amacrine cells, which violate this principle. These cell types have light-driven ON responses, but their dendrites mainly stratify in sublamina a of the IPL, the OFF sublayer. Recent anatomical studies suggested that certain ON cone bipolar cells make axonal or ectopic synapses as they descend through sublamina a, thus providing ON input to cells which stratify in the OFF sublayer. Using immunoelectron microscopy with 3-dimensional reconstruction, we have identified axonal synapses of ON cone bipolar cells in the rabbit retina. Ten calbindin ON cone bipolar axons made en passant ribbon synapses onto amacrine or ganglion dendrites in sublamina a of the IPL. Compared to the ribbon synapses made by bipolar terminals, these axonal ribbon synapses were characterized by a broad postsynaptic element that appeared as a monad and by the presence of multiple short synaptic ribbons. These findings confirm that certain ON cone bipolar cells can provide ON input to amacrine and ganglion cells whose dendrites stratify in the OFF sublayer via axonal synapses. The monadic synapse with multiple ribbons may be a diagnostic feature of the ON cone bipolar axonal synapse in sublamina a. The presence of multiple ribbons and a broad postsynaptic density suggest these structures may be very efficient synapses. We also identified axonal inputs to ipRGCs with the architecture described above.
Project description:In the retina, dopamine fulfills a crucial role in neural adaptation to photopic illumination, but the pathway that carries cone signals to the dopaminergic amacrine (DA) cells was controversial. We identified the site of ON-cone bipolar input onto DA cells in transgenic mice in which both types of catecholaminergic amacrine (CA) cells were labeled with green fluorescent protein or human placental alkaline phosphatase (PLAP). In confocal Z series of retinal whole mounts stained with antibodies to tyrosine hydroxylase (TH), DA cells gave rise to varicose processes that descended obliquely through the scleral half of the inner plexiform layer (IPL) and formed a loose, tangential plexus in the middle of this layer. Comparison with the distribution of the dendrites of type 2 CA cells and examination of neurobiotin-injected DA cells proved that their vitreal processes were situated in stratum S3 of the IPL. Electron microscope demonstration of PLAP activity showed that bipolar cell endings in S3 established ribbon synapses onto a postsynaptic dyad in which one or both processes were labeled by a precipitate of lead phosphate and therefore belonged to DA cells. In places, the postsynaptic DA cell processes returned a reciprocal synapse onto the bipolar endings. Confocal images of sections stained with antibodies to TH, kinesin Kif3a, which labels synaptic ribbons, and glutamate or GABA(A) receptors, confirmed that ribbon-containing endings made glutamatergic synapses onto DA cells processes in S3 and received from them GABAergic synapses. The presynaptic ON-bipolar cells most likely belonged to the CB3 (type 5) variety.
Project description:In the vertebrate retina, glutamate is traditionally thought to be released only by photoreceptors and bipolar cells to transmit visual signals radially along parallel ON and OFF channels. Lateral interactions in the inner retina are mediated by amacrine cells, which are thought to be inhibitory neurons. Here, we report calcium-dependent glutamate release from vGluT3-expressing amacrine cells (GACs) in the mouse retina. GACs provide an excitatory glutamatergic input to ON-OFF and ON direction-selective ganglion cells (DSGCs) and a subpopulation of W3 ganglion cells, but not to starburst amacrine cells. GACs receive excitatory inputs from both ON and OFF channels, generate ON-OFF light responses with a medium-center, wide-surround receptive field structure, and directly regulate ganglion cell activity. The results reveal a functional glutamatergic circuit that mediates noncanonical excitatory interactions in the retina and probably plays a role in generating ON-OFF responses, crossover excitation, and lateral excitation.
Project description:A key principle of retinal organization is that distinct ON and OFF channels are relayed by separate populations of bipolar cells to different sublaminae of the inner plexiform layer (IPL). ON bipolar cell axons have been thought to synapse exclusively in the inner IPL (the ON sublamina) onto dendrites of ON-type amacrine and ganglion cells. However, M1 melanopsin-expressing ganglion cells and dopaminergic amacrine (DA) cells apparently violate this dogma. Both are driven by ON bipolar cells, but their dendrites stratify in the outermost IPL, within the OFF sublamina. Here, in the mouse retina, we show that some ON cone bipolar cells make ribbon synapses in the outermost OFF sublayer, where they costratify with and contact the dendrites of M1 and DA cells. Whole-cell recording and dye filling in retinal slices indicate that type 6 ON cone bipolars provide some of this ectopic ON channel input. Imaging studies in dissociated bipolar cells show that these ectopic ribbon synapses are capable of vesicular release. There is thus an accessory ON sublayer in the outer IPL.
Project description:Convergent input from different presynaptic partners shapes the responses of postsynaptic neurons. Whether developing postsynaptic neurons establish connections with each presynaptic partner independently or balance inputs to attain specific responses is unclear. Retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) receive convergent input from bipolar cell types with different contrast responses and temporal tuning. Here, using optogenetic activation and pharmacogenetic silencing, we found that type 6 bipolar (B6) cells dominate excitatory input to ON?-RGCs. We generated mice in which B6 cells were selectively removed from developing circuits (B6-DTA). In B6-DTA mice, ON?-RGCs adjusted connectivity with other bipolar cells in a cell-type-specific manner. They recruited new partners, increased synapses with some existing partners, and maintained constant input from others. Patch-clamp recordings revealed that anatomical rewiring precisely preserved contrast and temporal frequency response functions of ON?-RGCs, indicating that homeostatic plasticity shapes cell-type-specific wiring in the developing retina to stabilize visual information sent to the brain.
Project description:Ribbon synapses convey sustained and phasic excitatory drive within retinal microcircuits. However, the properties of retinal inhibitory synapses are less well known. AII-amacrine cells are interneurons in the retina that exhibit large glycinergic synapses at their dendritic lobular appendages. Using membrane capacitance measurements, we observe robust exocytosis elicited by the opening of L-type Ca(2+) channels located on the lobular appendages. Two pools of synaptic vesicles were detected: a small, rapidly releasable pool and a larger and more slowly releasable pool. Depending on the stimulus, either paired-pulse depression or facilitation could be elicited. During early postnatal maturation, the coupling of the exocytosis Ca(2+)-sensor to Ca(2+) channel becomes tighter. Light-evoked depolarizations of the AII-amacrine cell elicited exocytosis that was graded to light intensity. Our results suggest that AII-amacrine cell synapses are capable of providing both phasic and sustained inhibitory input to their postsynaptic partners without the benefit of synaptic ribbons.
Project description:Neurons that release more than one transmitter exist throughout the CNS. Yet, how these neurons deploy multiple transmitters and shape the function of specific circuits is not well understood. VGluT3-expressing amacrine cells (VG3-ACs) provide glutamatergic input to ganglion cells activated by contrast and motion. Using optogenetics, we find that VG3-ACs provide selective glycinergic input to a retinal ganglion cell type suppressed by contrast and motion (SbC-RGCs). Firing of SbC-RGCs is suppressed at light ON and OFF over a broad range of stimulus sizes. Anatomical circuit reconstructions reveal that VG3-ACs form inhibitory synapses preferentially on processes that link ON and OFF arbors of SbC-RGC dendrites. Removal of VG3-ACs from mature circuits reduces inhibition and attenuates spike suppression of SbC-RGCs in a contrast- and size-selective manner, illustrating the modularity of retinal circuits. VG3-ACs thus use dual transmitters in a target-specific manner and shape suppressive contrast responses in the retina by glycinergic transmission.
Project description:In the mammalian retina, complementary ON and OFF visual streams are formed at the bipolar cell dendrites, then carried to amacrine and ganglion cells via nonlinear excitatory synapses from bipolar cells. Bipolar, amacrine and ganglion cells also receive a nonlinear inhibitory input from amacrine cells. The most common form of such inhibition crosses over from the opposite visual stream: Amacrine cells carry ON inhibition to the OFF cells and carry OFF inhibition to the ON cells ("crossover inhibition"). Although these synapses are predominantly nonlinear, linear signal processing is required for computing many properties of the visual world such as average intensity across a receptive field. Linear signaling is also necessary for maintaining the distinction between brightness and contrast. It has long been known that a subset of retinal outputs provide exactly this sort of linear representation of the world; we show here that rectifying (nonlinear) synaptic currents, when combined thorough crossover inhibition can generate this linear signaling. Using simple mathematical models we show that for a large set of cases, repeated rounds of synaptic rectification without crossover inhibition can destroy information carried by those synapses. A similar circuit motif is employed in the electronics industry to compensate for transistor nonlinearities in analog circuits.