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Regulation of photoreceptor gap junction phosphorylation by adenosine in zebrafish retina

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  22 January 2014

The Richard S. Ruiz M.D., Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Science, The University of Texas Medical School, Houston, Texas
The Richard S. Ruiz M.D., Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Science, The University of Texas Medical School, Houston, Texas
The Richard S. Ruiz M.D., Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Science, The University of Texas Medical School, Houston, Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, Houston, Texas


Electrical coupling of photoreceptors through gap junctions suppresses voltage noise, routes rod signals into cone pathways, expands the dynamic range of rod photoreceptors in high scotopic and mesopic illumination, and improves detection of contrast and small stimuli. In essentially all vertebrates, connexin 35/36 (gene homologs Cx36 in mammals, Cx35 in other vertebrates) is the major gap junction protein observed in photoreceptors, mediating rod–cone, cone–cone, and possibly rod–rod communication. Photoreceptor coupling is dynamically controlled by the day/night cycle and light/dark adaptation, and is directly correlated with phosphorylation of Cx35/36 at two sites, serine110 and serine 276/293 (homologous sites in teleost fish and mammals, respectively). Activity of protein kinase A (PKA) plays a key role during this process. Previous studies have shown that activation of dopamine D4 receptors on photoreceptors inhibits adenylyl cyclase, down-regulates cAMP and PKA activity, and leads to photoreceptor uncoupling, imposing the daytime/light condition. In this study, we explored the role of adenosine, a nighttime signal with a high extracellular concentration at night and a low concentration in the day, in regulating photoreceptor coupling by examining photoreceptor Cx35 phosphorylation in zebrafish retina. Adenosine enhanced photoreceptor Cx35 phosphorylation in daytime, but with a complex dose–response curve. Selective pharmacological manipulations revealed that adenosine A2a receptors provide a potent positive drive to phosphorylate photoreceptor Cx35 under the influence of endogenous adenosine at night. A2a receptors can be activated in the daytime as well by micromolar exogenous adenosine. However, the higher affinity adenosine A1 receptors are also present and have an antagonistic though less potent effect. Thus, the nighttime/darkness signal adenosine provides a net positive drive on Cx35 phosphorylation at night, working in opposition to dopamine to regulate photoreceptor coupling via a push–pull mechanism. However, the lower concentration of adenosine present in the daytime actually reinforces the dopamine signal through action on the A1 receptor.

Research Articles
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2014 

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