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Adam Davison, Kaspar Gierke, Johann Helmut Brandstätter, Norbert Babai; Functional and Structural Development of Mouse Cone Photoreceptor Ribbon Synapses. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2022;63(3):21. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/iovs.63.3.21.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Cone photoreceptors of the retina use a sophisticated ribbon-containing synapse to convert light-dependent changes in membrane potential into release of synaptic vesicles (SVs). We aimed to study the functional and structural maturation of mouse cone photoreceptor ribbon synapses during postnatal development and to investigate the role of the synaptic ribbon in SV release.
We performed patch-clamp recordings from cone photoreceptors and their postsynaptic partners, the horizontal cells during postnatal retinal development to reveal the functional parameters of the synapses. To investigate the occurring structural changes, we applied immunocytochemistry and electron microscopy.
We found that immature cone photoreceptor terminals were smaller, they had fewer active zones (AZs) and AZ-anchored synaptic ribbons, and they produced a smaller Ca2+ current than mature photoreceptors. The number of postsynaptic horizontal cell contacts to synaptic terminals increased with age. However, tonic and spontaneous SV release at synaptic terminals stayed similar during postnatal development. Multiquantal SV release was present in all age groups, but mature synapses produced larger multiquantal events than immature ones. Remarkably, at single AZs, tonic SV release was attenuated during maturation and showed an inverse relationship with the appearance of anchored synaptic ribbons.
Our developmental study suggests that the presence of synaptic ribbons at the AZs attenuates tonic SV release and amplifies multiquantal SV release. However, spontaneous SV release may not depend on the presence of synaptic ribbons or voltage-sensitive Ca2+ channels at the AZs.
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