In the retina, the sign-inverting synapse between photoreceptors and ON bipolar cells is the foundation for the ON pathway in vision. The synapse is sign-inverting because glutamate, released in darkness by rod and cone photoreceptors, hyperpolarizes the membrane of ON bipolar cells. Hyperpolarization arises when binding of glutamate to the metabotropic receptor mGluR6 on the dendrites of the ON bipolar cell activates a G protein (Go), which then shuts off a synaptic transduction current, most likely through a membrane-delimited pathway. The channel, whose molecular identity is currently unknown, allows a mixture of cations to flow through it;as a result of this ion selectivity, the ON bipolar cell to depolarizes when light shuts off transmitter release from photoreceptors and allows these channels to open. Recent evidence from ours and other labs demonstrates that Ca2+ strongly inhibits the transduction current, contributing to the conversion of sustained to transient light responses in the retina. The goal of this proposal is to functionally identify the transduction channel(s) in mouse ON bipolar cells, and to elucidate the mechanism of regulation by Ca2+. The identity of the channel is currently unknown, but our recent findings suggest that it is a member of the TRP channel family in particular, and the vanilloid subgroup of the TRP family, TRPV1 in particular. TRPV1 agonist such as capsaicin and anandamide appear to open the ON bipolar cell transduction channel as well. Furthermore, TRPV1 channels are known to be regulated by a variety of intracellular messengers such as PIP2, Ca2+, and cAMP, many of which are also known to modulate the transduction channel in ON bipolar cells.
Aims 1 and 2 of this proposal will examine the possibility that one or more TRPV1 agonist may serve as the endogenous activator of the transduction channel in bipolar cells of the mouse retina, as well as the mechanisms by which synthesis of these endogenous compounds are regulated.
Aim III will follow up on our recent studies on Ca2+ regulation of transduction channels. The goal of this aim is to determine the mechanism by which Ca2+ depresses the transduction current, and it will also address the possibility that transduction channels expressed in rod and cone bipolar cells are differentially regulated by Ca2+. Results from these studies will provide insight into the fundamental mechanisms that regulate sensitivity and dynamic range in the visual system.

Public Health Relevance

One of the leading causes of night blindness is the inability of a single cell in the retina, the rod bipolar cell, to encode information about light. In a mouse model this form of night blindness, which is call congenital stationary night blindness, type II (CSNB2), the receptor that receives incoming information about light is apparently normal. However, the ion channel that converts this information into an electrical response so that it can be passed on to the rest of the visual system may not be. Currently there is no information about the identity of this channel. We don't know what molecular family it belongs to, or why it may be damaged in CSNB2. The goal of this proposal is to characterize the physiological properties of the channel, including its family lineage, and the way that it talks to the receptor that receives information about light. The knowledge that we gain from this study will be important for understanding how the retina functions under normal conditions, and what might go wrong in patients with inherited disorders such as CSNB2.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Eye Institute (NEI)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-CB-G (90))
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Greenwell, Thomas
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Albert Einstein College of Medicine
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