Immunocytochemical evidence for SNARE protein-dependent transmitter release from guinea pig horizontal cells

Eur J Neurosci. 2010 Apr;31(8):1388-401. doi: 10.1111/j.1460-9568.2010.07181.x. Epub 2010 Apr 6.


Horizontal cells are lateral interneurons that participate in visual processing in the outer retina but the cellular mechanisms underlying transmitter release from these cells are not fully understood. In non-mammalian horizontal cells, GABA release has been shown to occur by a non-vesicular mechanism. However, recent evidence in mammalian horizontal cells favors a vesicular mechanism as they lack plasmalemmal GABA transporters and some soluble NSF attachment protein receptor (SNARE) core proteins have been identified in rodent horizontal cells. Moreover, immunoreactivity for GABA and the molecular machinery to synthesize GABA have been found in guinea pig horizontal cells, suggesting that if components of the SNARE complex are expressed they could contribute to the vesicular release of GABA. In this study we investigated whether these vesicular and synaptic proteins are expressed by guinea pig horizontal cells using immunohistochemistry with well-characterized antibodies to evaluate their cellular distribution. Components of synaptic vesicles including vesicular GABA transporter, synapsin I and synaptic vesicle protein 2A were localized to horizontal cell processes and endings, along with the SNARE core complex proteins, syntaxin-1a, syntaxin-4 and synaptosomal-associated protein 25 (SNAP-25). Complexin I/II, a cytosolic protein that stabilizes the activated SNARE fusion core, strongly immunostained horizontal cell soma and processes. In addition, the vesicular Ca(2+)-sensor, synaptotagmin-2, which is essential for Ca(2+)-mediated vesicular release, was also localized to horizontal cell processes and somata. These morphological findings from guinea pig horizontal cells suggest that mammalian horizontal cells have the capacity to utilize a regulated Ca(2+)-dependent vesicular pathway to release neurotransmitter, and that this mechanism may be shared among many mammalian species.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Female
  • GABA Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins / metabolism
  • Guinea Pigs
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / metabolism
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / metabolism*
  • Retinal Horizontal Cells / metabolism*
  • SNARE Proteins / metabolism*
  • Synaptic Vesicles / metabolism*


  • GABA Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • Neurotransmitter Agents
  • SNARE Proteins