Patch-clamp capacitance measurements and Ca2+ imaging at single nerve terminals in retinal slices

Mean Hwan Kim, Evan Vickers, Henrique von Gersdorff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Scopus citations

Abstract

Visual stimuli are detected and conveyed over a wide dynamic range of light intensities and frequency changes by specialized neurons in the vertebrate retina. Two classes of retinal neurons, photoreceptors and bipolar cells, accomplish this by using ribbon-type active zones, which enable sustained and high-throughput neurotransmitter release over long time periods. ON-type mixed bipolar cell (Mb) terminals in the goldfish retina, which depolarize to light stimuli and receive mixed rod and cone photoreceptor input, are suitable for the study of ribbon-type synapses both due to their large size (~10-12 μm diameter) and to their numerous lateral and reciprocal synaptic connections with amacrine cell dendrites. Direct access to Mb bipolar cell terminals in goldfish retinal slices with the patch-clamp technique allows the measurement of presynaptic Ca2+ currents, membrane capacitance changes, and reciprocal synaptic feedback inhibition mediated by GABAA and GABAC receptors expressed on the terminals. Presynaptic membrane capacitance measurements of exocytosis allow one to study the short-term plasticity of excitatory neurotransmitter release. In addition, short-term and long-term plasticity of inhibitory neurotransmitter release from amacrine cells can also be investigated by recordings of reciprocal feedback inhibition arriving at the Mb terminal. Over short periods of time (e.g. ~10 s), GABAergic reciprocal feedback inhibition from amacrine cells undergoes paired-pulse depression via GABA vesicle pool depletion. The synaptic dynamics of retinal microcircuits in the inner plexiform layer of the retina can thus be directly studied. The brain-slice technique was introduced more than 40 years ago but is still very useful for the investigation of the electrical properties of neurons, both at the single cell soma, single dendrite or axon, and microcircuit synaptic level. Tissues that are too small to be glued directly onto the slicing chamber are often first embedded in agar (or placed onto a filter paper) and then sliced. In this video, we employ the pre-embedding agar technique using goldfish retina. Some of the giant bipolar cell terminals in our slices of goldfish retina are axotomized (axon-cut) during the slicing procedure. This allows us to isolate single presynaptic nerve terminal inputs, because recording from axotomized terminals excludes the signals from the soma-dendritic compartment. Alternatively, one can also record from intact Mb bipolar cells, by recording from terminals attached to axons that have not been cut during the slicing procedure. Overall, use of this experimental protocol will aid in studies of retinal synaptic physiology, microcircuit functional analysis, and synaptic transmission at ribbon synapses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere3345
Pages (from-to)1-6
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments
Issue number59
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2012

Keywords

  • Axon terminal
  • Brain slices
  • Calcium-imaging
  • Exocytosis
  • Goldfish
  • Issue 59
  • Membrane capacitance measurements
  • Neuroscience
  • Patch-clamp
  • Retina microcircuits
  • Synaptic physiology
  • Synaptic ribbon
  • Transmitter release
  • Zebrafish

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)

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