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Identification and distribution of photoreceptor subtypes in the neotenic tiger salamander retina

  • DAVID M. SHERRY (a1), DAI D. BUI (a1) and WILLEM J. DEGRIP (a2)

Abstract

The neotenic tiger salamander retina is a major model system for the study of retinal physiology and circuitry, yet there are unresolved issues regarding the organization of the photoreceptors and the photoreceptor mosaic. The rod and cone subtypes in the salamander retina were identified using a combination of morphological and immunocytochemical markers for specific rod and cone opsin epitopes. Because the visual pigment mechanisms present in the tiger salamander retina are well characterized and the antibodies employed in these studies are specific for particular rod and cone opsin epitopes, we also were able to identify the spectral class of the various rod and cone subtypes. Two classes of rods corresponding to the “red” and “green” rods previously reported in amphibian retinas were identified. In serial semithin section analyses, rods and cones comprised 62.4 ± 1.4% and 37.6 ± 1.4% of all photoreceptors, respectively. One rod type comprising 98.0 ± 0.7% of all rods showed the immunological and morphological characteristics of “red” rods, which are maximally sensitive to middle wavelengths. The second rod subtype comprised 2.0 ± 0.7% of all rods and possessed the immunological and morphological characteristics of “green” rods, which are maximally sensitive to short wavelengths. By morphology four cone types were identified, showing three distinct immunological signatures. Most cones (84.8 ± 1.5% of all cones), including most large single cones, the accessory and principal members of the double cone, and some small single cones, showed immunolabeling by antisera that recognize long wavelength-sensitive cone opsins. A subpopulation of small single cones (8.4 ± 1.7% of all cones) showed immunolabeling for short wavelength-sensitive cone opsin. A separate subpopulation of single cones which included both large and small types (6.8 ± 1.4% of all cones) was identified as the UV-Cone population and showed immunolabeling by antibodies that recognize rod opsin epitopes. Analysis of flatmounted retinas yielded similar results. All photoreceptor types appeared to be distributed in all retinal regions. There was no obvious crystalline organization of the various photoreceptor subtypes in the photoreceptor mosaic.

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Corresponding author

Correspondence and reprint requests to: David M. Sherry, College of Optometry, University of Houston, 4901 Calhoun Rd., Houston, TX 77204-6052, USA.

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