Horizontal cells mediate inhibitory feedforward and feedback lateral interactions in the outer retina at photoreceptor terminals and bipolar cell dendrites; however, the mechanisms that underlie synaptic transmission from mammalian horizontal cells are poorly understood. The localization of a vesicular γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) transporter (VGAT) to horizontal cell processes in primate and rodent retinae suggested that mammalian horizontal cells release transmitter in a vesicular manner. Toward determining whether the molecular machinery for vesicular transmitter release is present in horizontal cells, we investigated the expression of SNAP25 (synaptosomal-associated protein of 25 kDa), a key SNARE protein, by immunocytochemistry with cell type-specific markers in the retinae of mouse, rat, rabbit, and monkey. Different commercial antibodies to SNAP25 were tested on vertical sections of retina. We report the robust expression of SNAP25 in both plexiform layers. Double labeling with SNAP25 and calbindin antibodies demonstrated that horizontal cell processes and their endings in photoreceptor triad synapses were strongly labeled for both proteins in mouse, rat, rabbit, and monkey retinae. Double labeling with parvalbumin antibodies in monkey retina verified SNAP25 immunoreactivity in all horizontal cells. Pre-embedding immunoelectron microscopy in rabbit retina confirmed expression of SNAP25 in lateral elements within photoreceptor triad synapses. The SNAP25 immunoreactivity in the plexiform layers and outer nuclear layer fell into at least three patterns depending on the antibody, suggesting a differential distribution of SNAP25 isoforms. The presence of SNAP25a and SNAP25b isoforms in mouse retina was established by reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction. SNAP25 expression in mammalian horizontal cells along with other SNARE proteins is consistent with vesicular exocytosis. J. Comp. Neurol. 519:972-988, 2011.
- SNARE complex
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