Dopamine D2 receptor-mediated modulation of rod-cone coupling in the Xenopus retina

David Krizaj, Robert Gábriel, W. Geoffrey Owen, Paul Witkovsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

78 Citations (Scopus)


We studied the responses of rod photoreceptors that were elicited with light flashes or sinusoidally modulated light by using intracellular recording. Dark-adapted Xenopus rod photoreceptors responded to sinusoidally modulated green lights at temporal frequencies between 1 Hz and 4 Hz. In normal Ringer's solution, 57% of the rods tested could follow red lights that were matched for equal rod absorbance to frequencies >5 Hz, indicating an input from red-sensitive cones. Quinpirole (10 μM), a D2 dopamine agonist, increased rod-cone coupling, whereas spiperone (5 μM), a selective D2 antagonist, completely suppressed it. D1 dopamine ligands were without effect. Neurobiotin that was injected into single rods diffused into neighboring rods and cones in quinpirole-treated retinas but only diffused into rods in spiperone-treated retinas. A subpopulation of rods (ca. 10% total rods) received a very strong cone input, which quickened the kinetics of their responses to red flashes and greatly increased the bandpass of their responses to sinusoidally modulated light. Based on electron microscopic examination, which showed that rod-rod and cone-cone gap junctions are common, whereas rod-cone junctions are relatively rare, we postulate that cone signals enter the rod network through a minority of rods with strong cone connections, from which the cone signal is further distributed in the rod network. A semiquantitative model of coupling, based on measures of gap- junction size and distribution and estimates of their conductance and open times, provides support for this assumption. The same network would permit rod signals to reach cones.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)529-538
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Comparative Neurology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Sep 7 1998


  • Gap junction
  • Neuromodulation
  • Photoreceptor
  • Retina

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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