May 18, 2021

Gain control by sparse, ultra-slow glycinergic synapses

<p>Retinal ON starburst amacrine cells (SACs) play a critical role in computing stimulus direction, partly in service of image stabilization by optokinetic nystagmus. ON SAC responses are sculpted by rich GABAergic innervation, mostly from neighbouring SACs. Surprisingly, however, we find that glycinergic narrow field amacrine cells (NACs) serve as their dominant source of inhibition during sustained activity. Although NAC inputs constitute only ~5% of inhibitory synapses to ON SACs, their distinct input patterns enable them to drive glycine inhibition during the both light increments and decrements. NAC to ON SAC inhibition appears to be mediated by ultra-slow non-canonical glycine receptors containing the 4 subunit, which effectively summate during repetitive stimulation. Glycinergic inhibition strongly decreases the output gain of the SACs, ensuring that their direction-selective output is maintained over their operating range. These results reveal an unexpected role for glycinergic pathways and receptor kinetics in modulating direction selectivity in the retina.</p>
<p> bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience</p>
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