Connectomic analysis reveals an interneuron with an integral role in the retinal circuit for night vision

Elife. 2020 May 15;9:e56077. doi: 10.7554/eLife.56077.


Night vision in mammals depends fundamentally on rod photoreceptors and the well-studied rod bipolar (RB) cell pathway. The central neuron in this pathway, the AII amacrine cell (AC), exhibits a spatially tuned receptive field, composed of an excitatory center and an inhibitory surround, that propagates to ganglion cells, the retina's projection neurons. The circuitry underlying the surround of the AII, however, remains unresolved. Here, we combined structural, functional and optogenetic analyses of the mouse retina to discover that surround inhibition of the AII depends primarily on a single interneuron type, the NOS-1 AC: a multistratified, axon-bearing GABAergic cell, with dendrites in both ON and OFF synaptic layers, but with a pure ON (depolarizing) response to light. Our study demonstrates generally that novel neural circuits can be identified from targeted connectomic analyses and specifically that the NOS-1 AC mediates long-range inhibition during night vision and is a major element of the RB pathway.

Keywords: amacrine cell; mouse; neuroscience; night vision; retinal circuitry.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amacrine Cells / metabolism
  • Amacrine Cells / physiology*
  • Animals
  • GABAergic Neurons / metabolism
  • GABAergic Neurons / physiology*
  • Genes, Reporter
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Neural Inhibition*
  • Neural Pathways / metabolism
  • Neural Pathways / physiology*
  • Night Vision*
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type I / genetics
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type I / metabolism
  • Optogenetics
  • Synaptic Transmission*


  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type I
  • Nos1 protein, mouse