Differential signalling and glutamate receptor compositions in the OFF bipolar cell types in the mouse retina

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The retina is the entrance to the visual system, which receives various kinds of image signals and forms multiple encoding pathways. The second-order retinal neurons, the bipolar cells, are thought to initiate multiple neural streams by encoding various visual signals in different types of cells. However, the functions of each bipolar cell type have not been fully understood. We investigated whether OFF bipolar cells encode visual signals in a type-dependent manner. We recorded the changes in the bipolar cell voltage in response to two input functions: step and sinusoidal light stimuli. Type 1 and 4 OFF bipolar cells were sustained cells and responded to sinusoidal stimuli over a broad range of frequencies. Type 2 and 3a cells were transient and exhibited band-pass filtering. Type 3b cells were in the middle of these two groups. The distinct temporal responses might be attributed to different types of glutamate receptors. We examined the AMPA and kainate glutamate receptor composition in each bipolar cell type. The light responses in the transient OFF bipolar cells were exclusively mediated by kainate receptors. Although the kainate receptors mediated the light responses in the sustained cells, the AMPA receptors also mediated a portion of the responses in sustained cells. Furthermore, we found that some types of cells were rectified more than other types. Taken together, we found that the OFF bipolar cells encode diverse temporal image signals in a type-dependent manner, confirming that each type of OFF bipolar cell initiates diverse temporal visual processing in parallel.

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