Published online by Cambridge University Press: 02 June 2009
Horizontal cells of the carp retina alter their synaptic connections with cones during dark and light adaptation. At light onset, dendrites of horizontal cells, which are positioned laterally at the ribbon synapse, form “spinules,” little processes with membrane densities. Spinules are retracted again during dark adaptation. Spinule retraction is also elicited upon glutamate application to the retina. In the present study, we address the question whether calcium/calmodulin-dependent pathways are involved in dark- and glutamate-evoked spinule retraction. Light-adapted retinas were isolated and subsequently dark adapted during incubation in media of different calcium concentrations. Spinule retraction was clearly blocked in low-calcium solutions (5 μM and 50 nM CaCl2). Incubation in medium containing cobalt chloride (2 mM) had the same effect. Both treatments blocked the glutamate-induced spinule retraction as well. These results indicate that spinule retraction is induced by a calcium influx into horizontal cells. To investigate whether calmodulin, the primary calcium receptor in eukaryotic cells, is present at the site of spinule formation, light- and dark-adapted retinas, embedded in LR White resin, were labelled with an antibody against calmodulin and gold-conjugated secondary antibodies. Horizontal cell dendrites at the ribbon synapse revealed strong calmodulin immunoreactivity, which was more than twice as high in light- as in dark-adapted retinas. The incubation of isolated retinas with the calmodulin antagonists W5 and W13 inhibited spinule retraction. In summary, these results suggest that spinule retraction may be regulated by calcium influx into horizontal cells and subsequent calcium/calmodulin-dependent pathways.