Expression of Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptor α4 and β2 Subunits on Direction-Selective Retinal Ganglion Cells in the Rabbit

Acta Histochem Cytochem. 2017 Feb 28;50(1):29-37. doi: 10.1267/ahc.16024. Epub 2017 Feb 22.


The direction selectivity of the retina is a distinct mechanism that is critical function of eyes for survival. The direction-selective retinal ganglion cells (DS RGCs) strongly respond to a preferred direction, but rarely respond to opposite direction or null directional visual stimuli. The DS RGCs are sensitive to acetylcholine, which is secreted from starburst amacrine cells (SACs) to the DS RGCs. Here, we investigated the existence and distribution of the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) α4 and β2 subunits on the dendritic arbors of the DS RGCs in adult rabbit retina using immunocytochemistry. The DS RGCs were injected with Lucifer yellow to identify their dendritic morphology. The double-labeled images of dendrites and nAChR subunits were visualized for reconstruction using high-resolution confocal microscopy. Although our results revealed that the distributional pattern of the nAChR subunits on the dendritic arbors of the DS RGCs was not asymmetric in the adult rabbit retina, the distribution of nAChR α4 and β2 subunits and molecular profiles of cholinergic inputs to DS RGCs in adult rabbit retina provide anatomical evidence for direction selectivity.

Keywords: cell injection; direction selectivity; immunocytochemistry; nicotinic acetylcholine receptor; retinal ganglion cell.