Truhlsen Eye Institute, Department of Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE, USA; Department Pharmacology & Experimental Neuroscience(2), University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE, USA. Electronic address: [Email]
In this review, we summarize studies investigating the types and distribution of voltage- and calcium-gated ion channels in the different classes of retinal neurons: rods, cones, horizontal cells, bipolar cells, amacrine cells, interplexiform cells, and ganglion cells. We discuss differences among cell subtypes within these major cell classes, as well as differences among species, and consider how different ion channels shape the responses of different neurons. For example, even though second-order bipolar and horizontal cells do not typically generate fast sodium-dependent action potentials, many of these cells nevertheless possess fast sodium currents that can enhance their kinetic response capabilities. Ca2+ channel activity can also shape response kinetics as well as regulating synaptic release. The L-type Ca2+ channel subtype, CaV1.4, expressed in photoreceptor cells exhibits specific properties matching the particular needs of these cells such as limited inactivation which allows sustained channel activity and maintained synaptic release in darkness. The particular properties of K+ and Cl- channels in different retinal neurons shape resting membrane potentials, response kinetics and spiking behavior. A remaining challenge is to characterize the specific distributions of ion channels in the more than 100 individual cell types that have been identified in the retina and to describe how these particular ion channels sculpt neuronal responses to assist in the processing of visual information by the retina.