Development and maintenance of vision's first synapse

Dev Biol. 2021 Aug:476:218-239. doi: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2021.04.001. Epub 2021 Apr 10.


Synapses in the outer retina are the first information relay points in vision. Here, photoreceptors form synapses onto two types of interneurons, bipolar cells and horizontal cells. Because outer retina synapses are particularly large and highly ordered, they have been a useful system for the discovery of mechanisms underlying synapse specificity and maintenance. Understanding these processes is critical to efforts aimed at restoring visual function through repairing or replacing neurons and promoting their connectivity. We review outer retina neuron synapse architecture, neural migration modes, and the cellular and molecular pathways that play key roles in the development and maintenance of these connections. We further discuss how these mechanisms may impact connectivity in the retina.

Keywords: Bipolar cell; Horizontal cell; Outer plexiform layer; Photoreceptor; Retina; Ribbon; Synapse.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Interneurons / physiology
  • Photoreceptor Cells / cytology*
  • Photoreceptor Cells / physiology
  • Retina / physiology
  • Retinal Cone Photoreceptor Cells / physiology
  • Retinal Horizontal Cells / physiology
  • Synapses / metabolism*
  • Synapses / physiology
  • Vision, Ocular / physiology*