Modulation of gap-junction channel gating at zebrafish retinal electrical synapses

J Neurophysiol. 1994 Nov;72(5):2257-68. doi: 10.1152/jn.1994.72.5.2257.


1. Transmission at electrical synapses is modulated by a variety of physiological signals, and this modulation is a potentially general mechanism for regulating signal integration in neural circuits and networks. In the outer plexiform layer of the retina, modulation of horizontal-cell electrical coupling by dopamine alters the extent of spatial integration in the horizontal-cell network. By analyzing the activity of individual gap-junction channels in low-conductance electrical synapses of zebrafish retinal horizontal cells, we have defined the properties of these synaptic ion channels and characterized the functional changes in them during modulation of horizontal-cell electrical synapses. 2. Zebrafish horizontal-cell gap-junction channels have a unitary conductance of 50-60 pS and exhibit open times of several tens of milliseconds. The kinetic process of channel closure is best described by the sum of two rate constants. 3. Dopamine, and its agonist, (+/-)-6,7-dihydroxy-2-amino-tetralin (ADTN), modulates electrical synaptic transmission between horizontal cells predominantly by affecting channel-gating kinetics. These agents reduced the open probability of gap-junction channels two- to threefold by reducing both the duration and frequency of channel openings. Both time constants for channel open duration were reduced, whereas the duration of shut periods was increased. Similar changes in open-time kinetics were observed in power spectra of higher conductance gap junctions. 4. These results provide a description of rapid electrical synaptic modulation at the single channel level. The description should be useful in understanding the mechanisms of plasticity at these synapses throughout the vertebrate central nervous system.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Communication / physiology
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Dopamine / physiology
  • Gap Junctions / physiology*
  • Ion Channels / physiology*
  • Membrane Potentials / physiology
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
  • Retina / physiology*
  • Retinal Ganglion Cells / physiology
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology*
  • Zebrafish


  • Ion Channels
  • Dopamine