GABAA and GABAC receptors on mammalian rod bipolar cells

J Comp Neurol. 1998 Jul 6;396(3):351-65. doi: 10.1002/(sici)1096-9861(19980706)396:3<351::aid-cne6>;2-1.


Rod bipolar (RB) cells of mammalian retinae receive synapses from different gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABAergic) amacrine cells in the inner plexiform layer (IPL). We addressed the question whether RB cells of the rabbit and of the rat retina express different types of GABA receptors at these synapses. RB cells were immunolabeled in vertical sections of rat retinae with an antibody against protein kinase C (PKC). The sections were double-labeled for the alpha 1, alpha 2, alpha 3, or gamma 2 subunits of the GABAA receptor. Punctate immunofluorescence, which represents synaptic localization, was found for all four subunits. Many of the alpha 1-, alpha 3-, or gamma 2-immunoreactive puncta coincided with the axon terminals of the PKC-immunolabeled RB cells. Sections and wholemounts of rabbit retinae were also double labeled for PKC and the rho subunits of the GABAC receptor. Rabbit RB cells were decorated by many rho-immunoreactive puncta, which were shown by electron microscopy to represent synaptic localization. Previous work from our laboratory has shown that the alpha 1, alpha 2, alpha 3, and rho subunits are not found within the same synapse but are expressed at different synaptic sites. Taken together, these results suggest that RB cells of mammalian retinae express at least three different types of GABA receptors at synaptic sites in the IPL: GABAC receptors, GABAA receptors containing the alpha 1 subunit, and GABAA receptors containing the alpha 3 subunit.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axons / metabolism
  • Axons / ultrastructure
  • Macromolecular Substances
  • Mammals
  • Microscopy, Immunoelectron
  • Protein Kinase C / analysis
  • Rabbits
  • Rats
  • Receptors, GABA / analysis*
  • Receptors, GABA / biosynthesis
  • Receptors, GABA-A / analysis*
  • Receptors, GABA-A / biosynthesis
  • Retinal Rod Photoreceptor Cells / cytology*
  • Retinal Rod Photoreceptor Cells / metabolism
  • Synapses / metabolism
  • Synapses / ultrastructure*


  • GABA-C receptor
  • Macromolecular Substances
  • Receptors, GABA
  • Receptors, GABA-A
  • Protein Kinase C