ABSTRACT: Many strains of mutant mice die at birth, when the retina is still very immature. The retinas of such mice can be studied in organotypic cultures. After a preceding anatomic study of the synaptic development, the electrical activity of the synaptic circuits within such cultures was studied in wild-type and gephyrin-deficient mice.
Organotypic cultures of newborn mouse retinas were grown for 14 days in vitro. Spontaneous postsynaptic currents (sPSCs) of amacrine cells were measured by using the whole-cell configuration of the patch-clamp technique. GABAergic and glycinergic currents that were isolated with specific antagonists, and retinas from wild-type (geph(+/+)) and gephyrin-deficient (geph(-/-)) mice were compared.
Rapidly decaying sPSCs that were blocked by kynurenic acid were mediated by ionotropic glutamate receptors, whereas sPSCs with significantly higher peak amplitudes and slow-decay kinetics were identified as spontaneous inhibitory postsynaptic currents (sIPSCs) mediated by gamma-aminobutyric acid type A receptors (GABA(A)Rs) and glycine receptors (GlyRs). In gephyrin-deficient (geph(-/-)) cultures, we found no sIPSCs mediated by GlyRs. sIPSCs mediated by GABA(A)Rs expressed in amacrine cells of geph(-/-) retinas decayed significantly faster than GABAergic sIPSCs recorded in amacrine cells of geph(+/+) retinas.
The different decay kinetics of GABA(A)Rs expressed in amacrine cells of geph(+/+) and of geph(-/-) retinas suggests that these cells express at least two types of GABA(A)R subtypes. In amacrine cells of geph(-/-) mice, a specific GABA(A)R subtype that may contain the alpha2 subunit, is impaired by the absence of gephyrin, whereas other GABA(A)Rs appear to function normally.
Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science 04/2003; 44(3):1376-87. · 3.60 Impact Factor