Convergence and segregation of the multiple rod pathways in mammalian retina

J Neurosci. 2004 Dec 8;24(49):11182-92. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3096-04.2004.


Using a multidisciplinary approach, we demonstrate that three different pathways are responsible for the transmission of rod signals across the mouse retina. Each pathway serves a primarily nonoverlapping range of stimulus intensities, with ganglion cells receiving either segregated or convergent inputs. For both on-center (ON) and off-center (OFF) ganglion cells, the primary rod pathway carries signals with the lowest threshold, whereas the secondary rod pathway is less sensitive by approximately 1 log unit. In addition, OFF signaling uses a tertiary rod pathway that is approximately 1 log unit less sensitive than the secondary. Although some ganglion cells received rod inputs exclusively from one of the pathways, others showed convergent inputs. Using pharmacological and genetic approaches, we defined classes of ON and OFF ganglion cells for which the scotopic inputs derive only from the primary pathway or from both primary and secondary pathways. In addition, we observed a class of OFF ganglion cell receiving mixed input from primary and tertiary pathways. Interestingly, OFF ganglion cells receiving convergent inputs from all three rod pathways or from the secondary and tertiary pathways together were never observed. Overall, our data show a complex arrangement of convergence and segregation of rod inputs to ganglion cells in the mammalian retina.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Amacrine Cells / physiology
  • Aminobutyrates / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Connexins / genetics
  • Connexins / physiology
  • Eye Proteins / genetics
  • Eye Proteins / physiology
  • Gap Junctions / physiology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Receptors, Metabotropic Glutamate / agonists
  • Receptors, Metabotropic Glutamate / physiology
  • Retinal Ganglion Cells / physiology
  • Retinal Rod Photoreceptor Cells / anatomy & histology*
  • Retinal Rod Photoreceptor Cells / drug effects
  • Retinal Rod Photoreceptor Cells / physiology*
  • Visual Pathways / anatomy & histology*
  • Visual Pathways / drug effects
  • Visual Pathways / physiology*


  • Aminobutyrates
  • Connexins
  • Eye Proteins
  • Receptors, Metabotropic Glutamate
  • connexin 36
  • metabotropic glutamate receptor 6
  • 2-amino-4-phosphonobutyric acid