Distribution of GABA and glycine receptors on bipolar and ganglion cells in the mammalian retina

Microsc Res Tech. 2000 Jul 15;50(2):130-40. doi: 10.1002/1097-0029(20000715)50:2<130::AID-JEMT5>3.0.CO;2-I.


The amino acids GABA and glycine mediate synaptic transmission via specific neurotransmitter receptors. Molecular cloning studies have shown that there is a great diversity of GABA and glycine receptors. In the present article, the distribution of GABA and glycine receptors on identified bipolar and ganglion cell types in the mammalian retina is reviewed. Immunofluorescence obtained with antibodies against GABA and glycine receptors is punctate. Electron microscopy shows that the puncta represent a cluster of receptors at synaptic sites. Bipolar cell types were identified with immunohistochemical markers. Double immunofluorescence with subunit-specific antibodies was used to analyze the distribution of receptor clusters on bipolar axon terminals. The OFF cone bipolar cells seem to be dominated by glycinergic input, whereas the ON cone bipolar and rod bipolar cells are dominated by GABAergic input. Ganglion cells were intracellularly injected with Neurobiotin, visualized with Streptavidin coupled to FITC, and subsequently stained with subunit specific antibodies. The distribution and density of receptor clusters containing the alpha1 subunit of the GABA(A) receptor and the alpha1 subunit of the glycine receptor, respectively, were analyzed on midget and parasol cells in the marmoset (a New World monkey). Both GABA(A) and glycine receptors are distributed uniformly along the dendrites of ON and OFF types of parasol and midget ganglion cells, indicating that functional differences between these subtypes of ganglion cells are not determined by GABA or glycinergic input.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axons / metabolism
  • Carrier Proteins / analysis
  • Dendrites / metabolism
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Mammals
  • Membrane Proteins / analysis
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Receptors, GABA / analysis*
  • Receptors, GABA / chemistry
  • Receptors, Glycine / analysis*
  • Receptors, Glycine / chemistry
  • Retina / growth & development
  • Retina / metabolism*
  • Retina / ultrastructure
  • Retinal Ganglion Cells / metabolism*
  • Retinal Ganglion Cells / ultrastructure
  • Synaptic Transmission


  • Carrier Proteins
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Receptors, GABA
  • Receptors, Glycine
  • gephyrin