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1.  AII amacrine cells discriminate between heterocellular and homocellular locations when assembling connexin36-containing gap junctions 
Journal of Cell Science  2014;127(6):1190-1202.
Electrical synapses (gap junctions) rapidly transmit signals between neurons and are composed of connexins. In neurons, connexin36 (Cx36) is the most abundant isoform; however, the mechanisms underlying formation of Cx36-containing electrical synapses are unknown. We focus on homocellular and heterocellular gap junctions formed by an AII amacrine cell, a key interneuron found in all mammalian retinas. In mice lacking native Cx36 but expressing a variant tagged with enhanced green fluorescent protein at the C-terminus (KO-Cx36-EGFP), heterocellular gap junctions formed between AII cells and ON cone bipolar cells are fully functional, whereas homocellular gap junctions between two AII cells are not formed. A tracer injected into an AII amacrine cell spreads into ON cone bipolar cells but is excluded from other AII cells. Reconstruction of Cx36–EGFP clusters on an AII cell in the KO-Cx36-EGFP genotype confirmed that the number, but not average size, of the clusters is reduced – as expected for AII cells lacking a subset of electrical synapses. Our studies indicate that some neurons exhibit at least two discriminatory mechanisms for assembling Cx36. We suggest that employing different gap-junction-forming mechanisms could provide the means for a cell to regulate its gap junctions in a target-cell-specific manner, even if these junctions contain the same connexin.
PMCID: PMC3953814  PMID: 24463820
Gap junction; Electrical synapse; connexin; Amacrine cell; Bipolar cell; Retina
3.  Lack of the Sodium-Driven Chloride Bicarbonate Exchanger NCBE Impairs Visual Function in the Mouse Retina 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e46155.
Regulation of ion and pH homeostasis is essential for normal neuronal function. The sodium-driven chloride bicarbonate exchanger NCBE (Slc4a10), a member of the SLC4 family of bicarbonate transporters, uses the transmembrane gradient of sodium to drive cellular net uptake of bicarbonate and to extrude chloride, thereby modulating both intracellular pH (pHi) and chloride concentration ([Cl−]i) in neurons. Here we show that NCBE is strongly expressed in the retina. As GABAA receptors conduct both chloride and bicarbonate, we hypothesized that NCBE may be relevant for GABAergic transmission in the retina. Importantly, we found a differential expression of NCBE in bipolar cells: whereas NCBE was expressed on ON and OFF bipolar cell axon terminals, it only localized to dendrites of OFF bipolar cells. On these compartments, NCBE colocalized with the main neuronal chloride extruder KCC2, which renders GABA hyperpolarizing. NCBE was also expressed in starburst amacrine cells, but was absent from neurons known to depolarize in response to GABA, like horizontal cells. Mice lacking NCBE showed decreased visual acuity and contrast sensitivity in behavioral experiments and smaller b-wave amplitudes and longer latencies in electroretinograms. Ganglion cells from NCBE-deficient mice also showed altered temporal response properties. In summary, our data suggest that NCBE may serve to maintain intracellular chloride and bicarbonate concentration in retinal neurons. Consequently, lack of NCBE in the retina may result in changes in pHi regulation and chloride-dependent inhibition, leading to altered signal transmission and impaired visual function.
PMCID: PMC3467262  PMID: 23056253

Results 1-3 (3)