Synaptic pathways that shape the excitatory drive in an OFF retinal ganglion cell

Ilya Buldyrev, Theresa Puthussery, W. Rowland Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Different types of retinal ganglion cells represent distinct spatiotemporal filters that respond selectively to specific features in the visual input. Much about the circuitry and synaptic mechanisms that underlie such specificity remains to be determined. This study examines how N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor signaling combines with other excitatory and inhibitory mechanisms to shape the output of small-field OFF brisk-sustained ganglion cells (OFF-BSGCs) in the rabbit retina. We used voltage clamp to separately resolve NMDA, α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid (AMPA), and inhibitory inputs elicited by stimulation of the receptive field center. Three converging circuits were identified. First is a direct glutamatergic input, arising from OFF cone bipolar cells (CBCs), which is mediated by synaptic NMDA and AMPA receptors. The NMDA input was saturated at 10% contrast, whereas the AMPA input increased monotonically up to 60% contrast. We propose that NMDA inputs selectively enhance sensitivity to low contrasts. The OFF bipolar cells, mediating this direct excitatory input, express dendritic kainate (KA) receptors, which are resistant to the nonselective AMPA/KA receptor antagonist, 2,3-dioxo-6-nitro-1,2,3,4-tetrahydrobenzo[f]quinoxaline-7-sulfonamide disodium salt (NBQX), but are suppressed by a GluK1- and GluK3-selective antagonist, (S)-1-(2-amino-2-carboxyethyl)-3-(2-carboxy-thiophene-3-ylmethyl)-5-methylpyrimidine-2,4-dione (UBP-310). The second circuit entails glycinergic crossover inhibition, arising from ON-CBCs and mediated by AII amacrine cells, which modulate glutamate release from the OFF-CBC terminals. The third circuit also comprises glycinergic crossover inhibition, which is driven by the ON pathway; however, this inhibition impinges directly on the OFF-BSGCs and is mediated by an unknown glycinergic amacrine cell that expresses AMPA but not KA receptors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1795-1807
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of neurophysiology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Apr 1 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Crossover inhibition
  • Ionotropic glutamate receptors
  • OFF cone bipolar cell
  • Synaptic transmission
  • Visual system

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Physiology


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