Excitatory synaptic transmission in the inner retina: Paired recordings of bipolar cells and neurons of the ganglion cell layer

Ko Matsui, Nobutake Hosoi, Masao Tachibana

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89 Citations (Scopus)


Properties of glutamatergic synaptic transmission were investigated by simultaneously voltage-clamping a pair of connected bipolar cells and cells in the ganglion cell layer (GLCs) in the newt retinal slice preparation. Activation of the Ca2+ current in a single bipolar cell was essential for evoking the glutamatergic postsynaptic current in the GLC. Depolarization for as short as 15 msec activated both NMDA and non-NMDA receptors. On the other hand, analysis of the spontaneous glutamatergic synaptic currents of GLCs revealed that these currents consisted of mainly non-NMDA receptor activation with little contribution from NMDA receptors. This suggests that non-NMDA receptors of GLCs are clustered in postsynaptic membrane regions immediately beneath the release sites of bipolar cells and that NMDA receptors have lower accessibility to the released transmitter than non-NMDA receptors. Glutamate that is spilled over from the release sites may activate the NMDA receptors. When a prolonged depolarizing pulse was applied to a bipolar cell, the response induced by non-NMDA receptors was limited greatly by their fast desensitization, whereas NMDA receptors were able to produce a maintained response. The relationship between the pulse duration applied to the bipolar cell and the integrated charge of the response evoked in the GLC was almost linear. Therefore, we propose that both non-NMDA and NMDA receptors cooperate to transfer the graded photoresponses of bipolar cells proportionally to GLCs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4500-4510
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 1998 Jun 15


  • Bipolar cell
  • Desensitization
  • EPSC
  • Ganglion cell
  • Glutamate
  • NMDA receptor
  • Non-NMDA receptor
  • Retina
  • Spill-over
  • Spontaneous EPSC
  • Synaptic transmission


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