Localization and developmental expression patterns of the neuronal K-Cl cotransporter (KCC2) in the rat retina

Tania Q. Vu, John A. Payne, David R. Copenhagen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

107 Scopus citations


The processing of signals by integrative neurons in the retina and CNS relies strongly on inhibitory synaptic inputs, principally from GABAergic and glycinergic neurons that serve primarily to hyperpolarize postsynaptic neurons. Recent evidence indicates that the neuron-specific K-Cl cotransporter 2 (KCC2) is the major chloride extrusion system permitting hyperpolarizing inhibitory responses. It has been hypothesized that depolarizing GABA responses observed in immature neurons are converted to hyperpolarizing responses in large part by the expression of KCC2 during the second week of postnatal development. The cell-specific localization and developmental expression of KCC2 protein have been examined in relatively few neural tissues and have never been studied in retina, of which much is known physiologically and morphologically about inhibitory synaptic circuits. We examined the localization of KCC2 in adult rat retina with immunohistochemical techniques and determined the time course of its postnatal expression. KCC2 expression was localized in horizontal cells, bipolar cells, amacrine cells, and, most likely, ganglion cells, all of which are known to express GABA receptor subtypes. Developmentally, KCC2 expression in the retina increased gradually from postnatal day 1 (P1) until P14 in the inner retina, whereas expression was delayed in the outer plexiform layer until P7 but reached its adult level by P14. These data support the hypothesis that the function of KCC2 is intimately involved in GABAergic synaptic processing. Furthermore, the delayed temporal expression of KCC2 in the outer plexiform layer indicates that GABAergic function may be differentially regulated in retina during postnatal development and that GABA may produce depolarizing responses in the outer plexiform layer at times when it generates hyperpolarizing responses in the inner plexiform layer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1414-1423
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 15 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Chloride gradient
  • GABA receptors
  • GABAergic excitation
  • Potassium chloride cotransporter
  • Retinal development
  • Synaptic excitation
  • Synaptic inhibition
  • Synaptogenesis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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