The Modulation of Gap Junction Permeability in the Retina

  • Reto Weiler
Part of the Neuroscience Intelligence Unit book series (NIU.LANDES)


Electrical coupling through gap junctions is very widespread in the retina (see chapter 5) and is found in all cell classes that form its neuronal network. There is not only homologous coupling but also heterologous coupling and the implementation of neurobiotin as a tracer molecule in the retina1 has unraveled an unexpected incidence of coupled cells and diversity of coupling patterns so far unmatched by other parts of the brain. But it is not only this abundance and variety of coupled networks in the retina that has attracted much interest. Indeed, neuronal coupling in the retina has come into the limelight due to the discovery that coupling can be modulated through neurotransmitters. Neuronal control of coupling resistances might explain why such extensive coupling that appears to be a counter-intuitive arrangement for a sensory organ responsible for high spatial resolution is copious in the retina. The vertebrate retina is therefore a unique preparation to study the functional role of coupling modulation in sensory processing. Furthermore, it offers the chances to analyze the neurotransmitter pathways involved in such modulation and the intracellular signal cascades. Last, but not least, the probable co-occurrence of multiple types of abundant connexin proteins in the retina should facilitate the search for their identity and modulatory properties at the molecular level. Knowledge we obtain from studying the modulation of retinal gap junctions will therefore provide not only useful information for vision researchers but for the neuroscientist who is interested in the plasticity of the brain.


Amacrine Cell Horizontal Cell Mammalian Retina Rabbit Retina Receptive Field Size 
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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1996

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  • Reto Weiler

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