Colocalization of retinal dystrophin and actin in postsynaptic dendrites of rod and cone photoreceptor synapses

Histochemistry. 1993 Dec;100(6):473-9. doi: 10.1007/BF00267828.


In this paper we demonstrate immunostaining specific for dystrophin in photoreceptor synapses of human, bovine and rat retinas. Cryosections of retinas incubated with dystrophin-specific monoclonal antibodies displayed a punctuate staining pattern in the outer plexiform layer. This pattern resulted from binding of the antibodies to synaptic complexes of both rods and cones, shown by double-labelling with antibodies to either synaptophysin or actin. Confocal laser fluorescence microscopy demonstrated that dystrophin staining colocalized predominantly with actin, which is concentrated in the postsynaptic portions of the synaptic complex. No significant dystrophin immunolabel was seen in the presynaptic terminals labelled with antibodies to synaptophysin, a marker of synaptic vesicles. Immunoblot analysis confirmed the presence of approximately 420 kDa and approximately 360 kDa dystrophin-like polypeptide bands associated with membranes of the bovine retina. We speculate that retinal dystrophin is involved in the linkage of actin filaments to the postsynaptic plasma membrane. Such a linkage may be important for the generation of synaptic microdomains and for certain phenomena of synaptic plasticity. The absence of dystrophin in patients suffering from Duchenne's muscular dystrophy is accompanied by visual problems and abnormalities of the electroretinogram. Therefore it is likely that retinal dystrophin plays a role in certain stages of synaptic transmission between photoreceptors and the postsynaptic dendritic complex formed by horizontal and bipolar cells.

MeSH terms

  • Actins / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • Dendrites / metabolism
  • Dystrophin / deficiency
  • Dystrophin / genetics
  • Dystrophin / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Muscular Dystrophies / genetics
  • Muscular Dystrophies / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Retina / metabolism*
  • Retinal Cone Photoreceptor Cells / metabolism
  • Retinal Rod Photoreceptor Cells / metabolism
  • Synapses / metabolism
  • Vision Disorders / genetics
  • Vision Disorders / metabolism


  • Actins
  • Dystrophin