Bipolar cells of the mouse retina: a gene gun, morphological study

J Comp Neurol. 2004 Aug 23;476(3):254-66. doi: 10.1002/cne.20207.


One of the key elements concerning our understanding of the organization of the mouse retina is the complete classification of the various types of bipolar cells. With the present study, we tried to contribute to this important issue. Unfortunately, most of the antibodies that stain specifically bipolar cells in the retina of other mammals hardly work for the retina of the mouse. We succeeded in overcoming this limitation by using a relatively novel technique based on the gene gun transfer of fluorescent dyes to cells. Hence, we were able to stain a considerable number of bipolar cells that could be characterized according to morphological and comparative criteria. We also performed a complete morphometric analysis of a subset of bipolar cells stained by anti-neurokinin-3 receptor antibodies. We found nine types of cone bipolar cells and one type of rod bipolar cell; these data are consistent with the findings of previous studies on the retinas of other mammals, such as rabbits, rats, and monkeys and with a recent study based on the mouse retina (Ghosh et al. [2004] J Comp Neurol 469:70-82). Our results also confirm the existence of a common structural similarity among mammalian retinas. It remains to be elucidated what is exactly the functional role of the various types of cone bipolar cells and what is the specific contribution they provide to the perception of a given visual stimulus. Most probably, each bipolar cell type constitutes a specialized channel for the computation of a selected component of the visual stimulus. More complex signal coding, involving the coordinated activity of various types of bipolar cells, could also be postulated, as it has been shown for ganglion cells (Meister [1996] Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 93:609-614).

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biolistics
  • Cell Count / methods
  • Eye Proteins / metabolism
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Interneurons / classification*
  • Interneurons / cytology*
  • Interneurons / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C3H
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Mutant Strains
  • Receptors, Neurokinin-3 / metabolism
  • Retina / cytology*
  • Retina / metabolism
  • Retinal Cone Photoreceptor Cells / cytology
  • Retinal Rod Photoreceptor Cells / cytology


  • Eye Proteins
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Receptors, Neurokinin-3