Glutamate is the major excitatory neurotransmitter in the retina, and most glutamatergic neurons express one of the three known vesicular glutamate transporters (VGLUT1, 2, or 3). However, the expression profiles of these transporters vary greatly in the retina. VGLUT1 is expressed by photoreceptor and bipolar cell terminals, and VGLUT2 appears to be predominately expressed by ganglion cells, and perhaps Müller cells, cone photoreceptor terminals, and horizontal cells in some species. The discovery of a third vesicular glutamate transporter, VGLUT3, has brought about speculation concerning its role and function based on its expression in amacrine cells. To address this we studied the postnatal development of VGLUT3 from day 0 through adult in the rat retina, and compared this with the expression patterns of VGLUT1 and VGLUT2. VGLUT3 expression was restricted to a population of amacrine cells. Expression of VGLUT3 was first observed at postnatal day 10 (P10) in the soma and some processes, which extensively arborized in both the ON and OFF sublamina of the IPL by P15. In contrast, VGLUT1 and VGLUT2 expression appeared earlier than VGLUT3; with VGLUT1 initially detected at P5 in photoreceptor terminals and P6 in bipolar terminals, and VGLUT2 immunoreactivity initially detected at P0 in ganglion cell bodies, and remained prominent throughout all stages of development. Interestingly, VGLUT3 has extensive somatic expression throughout development, which could be involved in non-synaptic modulation by glutamate in developing retina, and could influence trophic and extra-synaptic neuronal signaling by glutamate in the inner retina.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology
- Clinical Neurology
- Developmental Biology