Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Biological Sciences

Document Type



Amacrine cells mediate complex lateral signaling in the inner plexiform layer of the vertebrate retina. Glutamate is the primary excitatory neurotransmitter that shapes the retinal circuitry by activating ionotropic glutamate receptors (iGluRs)and metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluRs). One step in understanding the signaling in the inner retina is to understand the role and expression patterns of these glutamate receptors. The expression of iGluRs in amacrine cells is well documented in the literature. This study addresses the localization of Group I mGluRs in the retina. Pre-embedding immunocytochemistry combined with electron microscopy was used to study the expression of Group I mGluRs in the chicken retina. Results indicate that Group I mGluRs are expressed in the synaptic sites of the outer plexiform (OPL) and inner plexiform (IPL) layers and specifically at amacrine cell synapses. In order to understand the intricacies of amacrine cell signaling mechanisms it is important to dissect out the signaling mediated by Ca2+ in these cells. In this dissertation, Ca2+ dependent local signaling in amacrine cells, more specifically the Ca2+ transport mechanisms involving mitochondria and ER, are explored. Calcium imaging experiments were performed on cultured chick amacrine cells. The results presented here suggest that there is physiological interplay between mitochondria and ER. In addition to this, it is demonstrated that ryanodine receptors are specifically involved in Ca2+ transport, probably via calcium-induced calcium release (CICR). Blocking the mitochondrial uniporter with FCCP or the mitochondrial Na+/Ca2+ exchanger (mNCX) with CGP 37157 revealed that mitochondria also influence the duration of glutamate-dependent cytosolic Ca2+ elevations. The effects of FCCP and CGP were detectable only in amacrine cell bodies and also in regions of processes next to mitochondria, thus revealing a spatial limit to the effects of mitochondria on cytosolic Ca2+. Together, these results contribute to our understanding of how local signaling is achieved in the vertebrate retina.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Evanna Gleason