Receptive field properties of ON- and OFF-ganglion cells in the mouse retina

Vis Neurosci. May-Jun 2009;26(3):297-308. doi: 10.1017/S0952523809990137. Epub 2009 Jul 14.


There are two subclasses of alpha cell in the mammalian retina, which are morphologically identical in plain view but have opposite responses to a luminance change: one is ON center and the other is OFF center. Recent studies have shown that the neural circuitries, which underlie light responses in such ON- and OFF-ganglion cell pairs, are not mirror symmetric with respect to the ON and OFF pathways (Pang et al., 2003; Zaghloul et al., 2003; Murphy & Rieke, 2006). This study examines alpha-cell homologues in the mouse retina and elucidates the synaptic mechanisms that generate their light responses. Morphological analysis of recorded cells revealed three subclasses that were essentially identical in plan view but had distinct vertical stratification levels. We refer to these cells as the sustained ON (ON-S), sustained OFF (OFF-S), and transient OFF (OFF-T) cells (Murphy & Rieke, 2006; Margolis & Detwiler, 2007). Both ON-S and OFF-S cells were largely driven through the ON pathway via changes in excitatory and inhibitory inputs, respectively. Light responses of OFF-T cells were driven by transient changes in excitatory and inhibitory inputs. Light responses of OFF-S cells were also measured in connexin 36 knockout mice in order to dissect glycinergic input arising from AII amacrine cells. At photopic/mesopic intensities, peak glycinergic input to OFF-S cells in the connexin 36 knockout mouse was reduced by ~85% compared to OFF-S cells in the wild-type retina. This is consistent with the idea that AII cells receive their input from ON-cone bipolar cells through gap junctions and in turn provide glycinergic inhibition to OFF-S cells.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amacrine Cells / physiology
  • Animals
  • Connexins / deficiency
  • Electrophysiology
  • Female
  • Glycine / metabolism
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Light
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Neural Inhibition / physiology
  • Patch-Clamp Techniques
  • Retina / physiology*
  • Retinal Ganglion Cells / classification
  • Retinal Ganglion Cells / drug effects
  • Retinal Ganglion Cells / physiology*
  • Retinal Ganglion Cells / ultrastructure
  • Synapses / physiology


  • Connexins
  • connexin 36
  • Glycine