Neuronal expression of P2X3 purinoceptors in the rat retina

T. Puthussery, E. L. Fletcher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


P2X3 purinoceptors are involved in fast, excitatory neurotransmission in the nervous system, and are expressed predominantly within sensory neurons. In this study, we examined the cellular and synaptic localization of the P2X3 receptor subunit in the retina of the rat using immunofluorescence immunohistochemistry and pre-embedding immunoelectron microscopy. In addition, we investigated the activity of ecto-ATPases in the inner retina using an enzyme cytochemical method. The P2X3 receptor subunit was expressed in the soma of a subset of GABA immunoreactive amacrine cells, some of which also expressed protein kinase C-α. In addition, punctate immunoreactivity was observed within both the inner and outer plexiform layers of the retina. Double labeling studies showed that P2X3 receptor puncta were associated with both rod and cone bipolar cell axon terminals in the inner plexiform layer. Ultrastructural studies indicated that P2X3 receptor subunits were expressed on putative A17 amacrine cells at sites of reciprocal synaptic input to the rod bipolar cell axon terminal. Moreover, we observed P2X3 immunolabeling on amacrine cell processes that were associated with cone bipolar cell axon terminals and other conventional synapses. In the outer retina, P2X3 immunoreactivity was observed on specialized junctions made by putative interplexiform cells. Ecto-ATPase activity was localized to the inner plexiform layer on the extracellular side of all plasma membranes, but was not apparent in the ganglion cell layer or the inner nuclear layer, suggesting that ATP dephosphorylation occurs exclusively in synaptic regions of the inner retina. These data provide further evidence that purines participate in retinal transmission, particularly within the rod pathway.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)403-414
Number of pages12
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 25 2007


  • amacrine cell
  • bipolar cell
  • ectonucleotidase
  • electron microscopy
  • extracellular ATP
  • purinergic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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