Research ArticleNEUROSCIENCE

Molecular and functional architecture of the mouse photoreceptor network

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Science Advances  08 Jul 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 28, eaba7232
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aba7232


Mouse photoreceptors are electrically coupled via gap junctions, but the relative importance of rod/rod, cone/cone, or rod/cone coupling is unknown. Furthermore, while connexin36 (Cx36) is expressed by cones, the identity of the rod connexin has been controversial. We report that FACS-sorted rods and cones both express Cx36 but no other connexins. We created rod- and cone-specific Cx36 knockout mice to dissect the photoreceptor network. In the wild type, Cx36 plaques at rod/cone contacts accounted for more than 95% of photoreceptor labeling and paired recordings showed the transjunctional conductance between rods and cones was ~300 pS. When Cx36 was eliminated on one side of the gap junction, in either conditional knockout, Cx36 labeling and rod/cone coupling were almost abolished. We could not detect direct rod/rod coupling, and cone/cone coupling was minor. Rod/cone coupling is so prevalent that indirect rod/cone/rod coupling via the network may account for previous reports of rod coupling.

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