Immunocytochemical reactivity of Xenopus laevis retinal rods and cones with several monoclonal antibodies to visual pigments

Pál Röhlich, ÁGoston Szél, David S. Papermaster

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42 Citations (Scopus)


Immunocytochemical reactions with several antibodies to visual pigments were used to study visual cells of the Xenopus laevis retina. Monoclonal antibodies to bovine opsin „E,” 1D4, and 4B4 (reactive with the N‐ and C‐terminus and with the loop connecting transmembrane segments 5–6, respectively) and to chicken visual pigments COS‐1 and OS‐2 (binding to mammalian red/green and blue cones, respectively), as well as a rabbit antifrog opsin serum 11–7, were applied to semithin and thin sections of the retina. The bound antibodies were detected with the peroxidase technique at the light microscopic level; a three‐stage immunogold procedure was used for electron microscopic immunocytochemistry. The overwhelming majority of rods were labeled by monoclonal antibodies „E,” 4B4, 1D4, OS‐2, and serum 11–7. A small fraction (2–3%) of rods did not bind monoclonal antibodies „E” and 4B4, but this minor population of rods was strongly reactive with 1D4 and to a lesser extent with OS‐2, indicating the presence of different visual pigment. These rods differ in shape from the major rod type; they are thinner, shorter, and may be comparable to the blue‐sensitive („green”) rods of other amphibia. Cones were morphologically heterogeneous: double cones, large single cones, and small single cones were found, and the large single and the double cones were occasionally duplicated. Double cones and large single cones (as well as their duplicated varieties) strongly bound monoclonal antibodies COS‐1 and were unlabeled by all other monoclonal antibodies, except OS‐2. The small single cone was remarkably unreactive with COS‐1 and „E,” weakly labeled by 1D4 and 4B4, and most reactive with OS‐2 and 11–7. This unique pattern of immunocytochemical reactions in the small cone type indicates the uniqueness of its visual pigment from other cone types in the Xenopus retina. The present study shows the existence of two different opsins in morphologically distinct (thick and thin) rod types and at least two cone pigments in the heterogeneous cone population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)105-117
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Comparative Neurology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 1989


  • Xenopus laevis
  • immunocytochemistry
  • monoclonal antibodies
  • photoreceptors
  • retina

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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