Endogenous dopaminergic regulation of horizontal cell coupling in the mammalian retina

J Comp Neurol. 2000 Feb 28;418(1):33-40. doi: 10.1002/(sici)1096-9861(20000228)418:1<33::aid-cne3>3.0.co;2-j.


Horizontal cells in an isolated wholemount preparation of the mouse retina were injected with Lucifer yellow and neurobiotin to characterize both the pattern of gap junctional connectivity and its regulation by dopamine. The injected horizontal cells had a uniform morphology of a round cell body, a compact dendritic tree, and an axon, which could sometimes be traced to an expansive terminal system. The dendro-dendritic gap junctions between neighboring cells mediated both weak Lucifer yellow dye coupling and strong neurobiotin tracer coupling. The extent of the tracer coupling was decreased by either exogenous dopamine (100 microM) or cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) analogs and was significantly increased by the D1 antagonist SCH 23390 (10 microM). These results provide the first evidence in the mammalian retina that the gap junctions between horizontal cells are endogenously regulated by dopamine, which acts through D1 receptors to increase the intracellular cAMP. It has been proposed that the gap junctional coupling between horizontal cells is mediated by connexin 32 (Cx32), but the pattern and dopaminergic regulation of horizontal cell coupling were unaffected in Cx32-knockout mice, ruling out the possible involvement of Cx32. Every tracer-coupled horizontal cell showed calbindin immunoreactivity, and vice versa, providing strong evidence that the horizontal cells in the mouse retina comprise a single cell type. Like the axonless horizontal cells in other mammalian retinas, the axon-bearing horizontal cells in the mouse retina are coupled by gap junctions that are permeable to Lucifer yellow and dopamine sensitive, suggesting that the mouse horizontal cells have hybrid properties to compensate for the absence of axonless horizontal cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Benzazepines / pharmacology
  • Calbindins
  • Cardiotonic Agents / metabolism*
  • Cardiotonic Agents / pharmacology
  • Cell Communication / physiology*
  • Cell Size
  • Connexins / genetics
  • Connexins / metabolism
  • Dopamine / metabolism*
  • Dopamine / pharmacology
  • Dopamine Antagonists / pharmacology
  • Gap Junctions / drug effects*
  • Gap Junctions / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Neurons / cytology*
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Retina / cytology*
  • Retina / drug effects
  • Retina / metabolism*
  • S100 Calcium Binding Protein G / metabolism


  • Benzazepines
  • Calbindins
  • Cardiotonic Agents
  • Connexins
  • Dopamine Antagonists
  • S100 Calcium Binding Protein G
  • connexin 32
  • Dopamine