Synaptic transmission to the horizontal cells in the retina of the larval tiger salamander

J Physiol. 1978 Jun:279:321-46. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.1978.sp012347.


1. The receptive field diameter for most horizontal cells far exceeds the lateral spread of processes for any cell. Therefore horizontal cells probably receive synaptic input from neighbours as well as from the photoreceptors. The electrical effects of these two synaptic inputs were studied. 2. We have characterized the electrical properties of the horizontal cell inputs by determining the current-voltage curves in dark and light. These curves were compared with those obtained in the presence of Co2+ or Mg2 was nearly identical to the curve in the light. 4. The putative transmitter substances glutamate, aspartate and GABA depolarized the cells by increasing conductance. Current-voltage curves measured in the presence of these substances intersected the dark and light curves at +50 mV, the same level at which the dark and light curves intersect. 5. The light response of cells uith broad receptive fields, between 1.0 and 2.0 mm, showed little or no change in conductance associated with the light response. The input resistance was near 20 Momega, and the current-voltage curves intersected at an extrapolated potential level near 200 mV. 6. In the presence of ACh, electrical properties of the broad field cells reverted to those of the narrow field cells: the receptive field was reduced to 0.5 mm, the imput resistance increased, and the current-voltage curves intersected near +50 mV. Thus ACh appeared to interrupt synaptic input from neighbouring horizontal cells. 7. The results confirm the suggestion that horizontal cells receive a tonic excitatory input from the photoreceptors which is decreased by light. They show that horizontal cells receive an additional input from their neighbours, not associated with a measurable conductance change. The input from neighbours is selectively interrupted by ACh, but the nature of this synapse and of the cholinergic action is not known.

MeSH terms

  • Acetylcholine / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Aspartic Acid / pharmacology
  • Cobalt / pharmacology
  • Glutamates / pharmacology
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Larva / physiology
  • Magnesium / pharmacology
  • Membrane Potentials / drug effects
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Retina / physiology*
  • Synapses / physiology*
  • Synaptic Transmission*
  • Urodela / physiology*


  • Glutamates
  • Aspartic Acid
  • Cobalt
  • Magnesium
  • Acetylcholine