Sensory Processing at Ribbon Synapses in the Retina and the Cochlea

Physiol Rev. 2020 Jan 1;100(1):103-144. doi: 10.1152/physrev.00026.2018. Epub 2019 Aug 2.


In recent years, sensory neuroscientists have made major efforts to dissect the structure and function of ribbon synapses which process sensory information in the eye and ear. This review aims to summarize our current understanding of two key aspects of ribbon synapses: 1) their mechanisms of exocytosis and endocytosis and 2) their molecular anatomy and physiology. Our comparison of ribbon synapses in the cochlea and the retina reveals convergent signaling mechanisms, as well as divergent strategies in different sensory systems.

Keywords: active zone; calcium channel; endocytosis; exocytosis; sensory encoding; synaptic transmission; synaptic vesicle.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cochlea / physiology*
  • Endocytosis
  • Exocytosis
  • Humans
  • Retina / physiology*
  • Synapses / physiology*
  • Synaptic Transmission