Vesicular transporters play an essential role in the packaging of glutamate for synaptic release and so are of particular importance in the retina, where glutamate serves as the neurotransmitter for photoreceptors, bipolar cells, and ganglion cells. In the present study, we have examined the distribution of the three known isoforms of vesicular glutamate transporter (VGLUT) in the cat retina. VGLUT1 was localized to all photoreceptor and bipolar cells, whereas VGLUT2 was found in ganglion cells. This basic pattern of complementary distribution for the two transporters among known populations of glutamatergic cells is similar to previous findings in the brain and spinal cord. However, the axon terminals of S-cone photoreceptors were found to express both VGLUT1 and VGLUT2 and some ganglion cells labeled for both VGLUT2 and VGLUT3. Such colocalizations suggest the existence of dual modes of regulation of vesicular glutamate transport in these neurons. Staining for VGLUT2 was also present in a small number of varicose processes, which were seen to ramify throughout the inner plexiform layer. These fibers may represent axon collaterals of ganglion cells. The most prominent site of VGLUT3 immunoreactivity was in a population of amacrine cells; the axon terminals of B-type horizontal cells were also labeled at their contacts with rod spherules. The presence of the VGLUT3 transporter at sites not otherwise implicated in glutamate release may indicate novel modes of glutamate signaling or additional roles for the transporter molecule.
Copyright 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.