Localization of heterotypic gap junctions composed of connexin45 and connexin36 in the rod pathway of the mouse retina

Eur J Neurosci. 2006 Sep;24(6):1675-86. doi: 10.1111/j.1460-9568.2006.05052.x.


The primary rod pathway in mammals contains gap junctions between AII amacrine cells and ON cone bipolar cells which relay the rod signal into the cone pathway under scotopic conditions. Two gap junctional proteins, connexin36 (Cx36) and connexin45 (Cx45), appear to play a pivotal role in this pathway because lack of either protein leads to an impairment of visual transmission under scotopic conditions. To investigate whether these connexins form heterotypic gap junctions between ON cone bipolar and AII amacrine cells, we used newly developed Cx45 antibodies and studied the cellular and subcellular distribution of this protein in the mouse retina. Specificity of the Cx45 antibodies was determined, among others, by Western blot and immunostaining of mouse heart, where Cx45 is abundantly expressed. In mouse retina, Cx45 immunosignals were detected in both plexiform layers and the ganglion cell layer. Double staining for Cx45 and Cx36 revealed a partial overlap in the punctate patterns in the ON sublamina of the inner plexiform layer of the retina. We quantified the distributions of these two connexins in the ON sublamina, and detected 30% of the Cx45 signals to be co-localized with or in close apposition to Cx36 signals. Combining immunostaining and intracellular dye injection revealed an overlap or tight association of Cx36 and Cx45 signals on the terminals of injected AII amacrine and two types of ON cone bipolar cells. Our results provide direct evidence for heterotypic gap junctions composed of Cx36 and Cx45 between AII amacrine and certain types of ON cone bipolar cells.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amacrine Cells / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Blotting, Western / methods
  • Connexins / genetics
  • Connexins / metabolism*
  • Immunohistochemistry / methods
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Myocardium / metabolism
  • Retina / cytology*
  • Retinal Rod Photoreceptor Cells / metabolism*
  • Visual Pathways / metabolism*


  • Connexins
  • connexin 36
  • connexin 45