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Functional anatomy of the photoreceptor and second-order cell mosaics in the retina of Xenopus laevis

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 Mosaics of photoreceptors, and horizontal and bipolar cells of the Xenopus laevis retina were studied in whole-mount preparations applying lectin-cytochemical, immunocytochemical and intracellular labeling techniques. The combined density of all photoreceptor types was about 13700/mm2, of which rods represented 53%. Of the cones, the large long-wavelength-sensitive (86% of all cones) and the miniature ultraviolet-wavelength-sensitive (4%) ones could be labeled with peanut agglutinin, whereas the large short-wavelength-sensitive (10%) cones remained unlabeled. There were no significant regional differences in photoreceptor distribution. Bipolar cells were selectively labeled with antibodies against calretinin. Their density was between 4000 and 6000 cells/cm2, with slightly elevated numbers in the superior nasal quadrant. Two types of horizontal cell were injected intracellularly. The luminosity-type cells were more frequent (∼1000 cells/mm2) than the chromaticity cells (∼450 cells/mm2). The dendritic field size of the latter cell type was threefold bigger than that of the luminosity cells. The coverage factors were estimated to be 3.3 for the luminosity cells and 5.2 for the chromaticity cells. The luminosity cells contacted all photoreceptor types, whereas chromatic horizontal cells received their inputs from the short-wavelength-sensitive cones and from some, but not all, rods. Luminosity cells encounter about 50–60 potential synaptic partners within their dendritic fields, whereas chromatic horizontal cells only about 20. Chromatic horizontal cells form multiple synaptic contacts with the short-wavelength-sensitive cones. The results indicate that the overall photoreceptor to bipolar and bipolar to ganglion cell convergence in Xenopus retina is similar to that in the central retinal specialized regions of mammals, predicting comparable spatial resolutions.

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Received: 15 December 1998 / Accepted: 10 February 1999

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Wilhelm, M., Gábriel, R. Functional anatomy of the photoreceptor and second-order cell mosaics in the retina of Xenopus laevis . Cell Tissue Res 297, 35–46 (1999).

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  • Key words Rods
  • Cones
  • Bipolar cells
  • Horizontal cells
  • Inner nuclear layer
  • Xenopus laevis (Anura)