Diversity of glycine receptors in the mouse retina: localization of the alpha2 subunit

J Comp Neurol. 2004 Sep 27;477(4):399-411. doi: 10.1002/cne.20267.


Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and glycine are the major inhibitory neurotransmitters in the retina, glycine being produced in approximately half of all amacrine cells. Whereas retinal cell types expressing the glycine receptor (GlyR) alpha1 and alpha3 subunits have been mapped, the role of the alpha2 subunit in retinal circuitry remains unclear. By using immunocytochemistry, we localized the alpha2 subunit in the inner plexiform layer (IPL) in brightly fluorescent puncta, which represent postsynaptically clustered GlyRs. This was shown by doubly labeling sections for GlyR alpha2 and bassoon (a presynaptic marker) or gephyrin (a postsynaptic marker). Synapses containing GlyR alpha2 were rarely found on ganglion cell dendrites but were observed on bipolar cell axon terminals and on amacrine cell processes. Recently, an amacrine cell type has been described that is immunopositive for glycine and for the vesicular glutamate transporter vGluT3. The processes of this cell type were presynaptic to GlyR alpha2 puncta, suggesting that vGluT3 amacrine cells release glycine. Double labeling of sections for GlyR alpha1 and GlyR alpha2 subunits showed that they are clustered at different synapses. In sections doubly labeled for GlyR alpha2 and GlyR alpha3, approximately one-third of the puncta were colocalized. The most abundant GlyR subtype in retina contains alpha3 subunits, followed by those containing GlyR alpha2 and GlyR alpha1 subunits.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Receptors, Glycine / metabolism*
  • Retina / cytology*
  • Retina / metabolism*
  • Synapses / metabolism


  • Glra2 protein, mouse
  • Receptors, Glycine
  • glycine receptor alpha3 subunit