Spatial and temporal distribution patterns of Na-K-2Cl cotransporter in adult and developing mouse retinas

Vis Neurosci. 2008 Mar-Apr;25(2):109-23. doi: 10.1017/S0952523808080164.


The Na-K-2Cl cotransporter (NKCC) is a Cl(-) uptake transporter that is responsible for maintaining a Cl(-) equilibrium potential positive to the resting potential in neurons. If NKCC is active, GABA and glycine can depolarize neurons. In view of the abundance of GABAergic and glycinergic synapses in retina, we undertook a series of studies using immunocytochemical techniques to determine the distribution of NKCC in retinas of both developing and adult mice. We found NKCC antibody (T4) labeling present in retinas from wild-type mice, but not in NKCC1-deficient mice, suggesting that the NKCC1 subtype is a major Cl(-) uptake transporter in mouse retina. Strong labeling of NKCC1 was present in horizontal cells and rod-bipolar dendrites in adult mice. Interestingly, we also found that a diffuse labeling pattern was present in photoreceptor terminals. However, NKCC1 was barely detectable in the inner retina of adult mice. Using an antibody against K-Cl cotransporter 2 (KCC2), we found that KCC2, a transporter that extrudes Cl(-), was primarily expressed in the inner retina. The expression of NKCC1 in developing mouse retinas was studied from postnatal day (P) 1 to P21, NKCC1 labeling first appeared in the dendrites of horizontal and rod-bipolar cells as early as P7, followed by photoreceptor terminals between P10-P14; with expression gradually increasing concomitantly with the growth of synaptic terminals and dendrites throughout retinal development. In the inner retina, NKCC1 labeling was initially observed in the inner plexiform layer at P1, but labeling diminished after P5. The developmental increase in NKCC expression only occurred in the outer retina. Our results suggest that the distal synapses and synaptogenesis in mouse retinas undergo a unique process with a high intracellular Cl(-) presence due to NKCC1 expression.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aging / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn / growth & development
  • Animals, Newborn / metabolism*
  • Blotting, Western
  • Dendrites / metabolism
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Mice / growth & development
  • Mice / metabolism*
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Nerve Endings / metabolism
  • Photoreceptor Cells, Vertebrate / metabolism
  • Protein Isoforms / metabolism
  • Retina / cytology
  • Retina / growth & development
  • Retina / metabolism*
  • Retinal Bipolar Cells / metabolism
  • Retinal Horizontal Cells / metabolism
  • Sodium-Potassium-Chloride Symporters / metabolism*
  • Solute Carrier Family 12, Member 2
  • Symporters / metabolism
  • Synapses / physiology
  • Time Factors
  • Tissue Distribution


  • Protein Isoforms
  • Slc12a2 protein, mouse
  • Sodium-Potassium-Chloride Symporters
  • Solute Carrier Family 12, Member 2
  • Symporters
  • potassium-chloride symporters