Synaptic transmission at retinal ribbon synapses

Prog Retin Eye Res. 2005 Nov;24(6):682-720. doi: 10.1016/j.preteyeres.2005.04.002.


The molecular organization of ribbon synapses in photoreceptors and ON bipolar cells is reviewed in relation to the process of neurotransmitter release. The interactions between ribbon synapse-associated proteins, synaptic vesicle fusion machinery and the voltage-gated calcium channels that gate transmitter release at ribbon synapses are discussed in relation to the process of synaptic vesicle exocytosis. We describe structural and mechanistic specializations that permit the ON bipolar cell to release transmitter at a much higher rate than the photoreceptor does, under in vivo conditions. We also consider the modulation of exocytosis at photoreceptor synapses, with an emphasis on the regulation of calcium channels.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcium Channels / metabolism
  • Exocytosis
  • Nerve Endings / metabolism
  • Photoreceptor Cells / metabolism
  • Retina / physiology*
  • Retina / ultrastructure
  • Synapses / metabolism
  • Synapses / physiology*
  • Synapses / ultrastructure
  • Synaptic Transmission*


  • Calcium Channels