The major inhibitory neurotransmitter glycine is used by about half of the amacrine cells in the retina. Amacrine cells provide synaptic output to bipolar, ganglion, and other amacrine cells. The present study investigated whether different bipolar and amacrine cell types in the primate retina differ with respect to the expression of glycine receptor (GlyR) subtypes. Antibodies specific for the alpha1, alpha2, and alpha3 subunits of the GlyR were combined with immunohistochemical markers for bipolar and amacrine cells and applied to vertical sections of macaque (Macaca fascicularis) and marmoset (Callithrix jacchus) retinae. For all subunits, punctate immunoreactivity was expressed in the inner plexiform layer. The GlyRalpha2 immunoreactive (IR) puncta occur at the highest density, followed by GlyR(alpha)3 and GlyR(alpha)1 IR puncta. Postembedding electron microscopy showed the postsynaptic location of all subunits. Double immunofluorescence demonstrated that the three alpha subunits are clustered at different postsynaptic sites. Two OFF cone bipolar cell types (flat midget and diffuse bipolar DB3), are predominantly associated with the alpha1 subunit. Two ON bipolar cell types, the DB6 and the rod bipolar cell, are predominantly associated with the alpha2 subunit. The glycinergic AII amacrine cell is presynaptic to the alpha1 subunit in the OFF-sublamina, and postsynaptic to the alpha2 subunit in the ON-sublamina. Another putative glycinergic cell, the vesicular glutamate transporter 3 cell, is predominantly presynaptic to the alpha2 subunit. The dopaminergic amacrine cell expresses the alpha3 subunit at a low density.
(c) 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.