Electrophysiological and ultrastructural studies have demonstrated that gap junctions connect diverse types of neurons in the central nervous system, permitting direct electrical and metabolic coupling. A member of gap junction channel subunit connexin36 (Cx36), is probed for the location of cell-to-ccll communication in the mammalian retina, where gap junction networks of major classes of neurons are present. We present an analysis of the expression and localization of Cx36 protein in adult Wistar rat retina, using a newly generated polyclonal antibody against a sequence in the predicted cytoplasmic loop of the Cx36 amino acid alignment, deduced from the cDNA sequence. The affinity-purified antibody, recognizing a single 36-kDa protein, consistently labeled discrete puncta of subcellular structures likely to be associated with gap junctions in the inner plexiform layer, and also cytoplasm within somata and dendrites of retinal amacrine and ganglion cells, following examination with various fixation protocols and double labeling immunofluorescence. These results provide that prominent cell-to-cell communication appears in mature excitatory neurons such as retinal ganglion cells, in addition to inhibitory amacrine cells, mediated by gap junctions in the adult retina.
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