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Developmental modulation of retinal wave dynamics: Shedding light on the GABA saga

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Evelyne SernagorORCiD


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Embryonic spontaneous activity, in the form of propagating waves, is crucial for refining visual connections. To study what aspects of this correlated activity are instructive, we must first understand how their dynamics change with development and what factors trigger their disappearance after birth. Here we report that in the turtle retina, GABA, rather than glutamate and acetylcholine, influences developmental changes in wave dynamics. Using calcium imaging of the ganglion cell layer, we report how waves switch from fast and broad, when they emerge, to slow and narrow a few days before hatching, coinciding with the emergence of excitatory GABAA receptor-mediated activity. Around hatching, waves gradually become stationary patches, whereas GABAA shifts from excitatory to inhibitory, coinciding with the upregulation of the cotransporter KCC2, suggesting that changes in intracellular chloride underlie the shift. Dark-rearing from hatching causes correlated spontaneous activity to persist, whereas GABA A responses remain excitatory, and KCC2 expression is weaker. We conclude that GABA plays an important regulatory role during the maturation of retinal neural activity. Using a simple and elegant mechanism, namely the switch from excitatory to inhibitory, GABAA receptor-mediated activity is necessary and sufficient to cause retinal waves to stop propagating, ultimately leading to the disappearance of correlated spontaneous activity. Moreover, our results suggest that visual experience modulates the GABAergic switch.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Sernagor E, Young C, Eglen SJ

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Neuroscience

Year: 2003

Volume: 23

Issue: 20

Pages: 7621-7629

ISSN (print): 0270-6474

ISSN (electronic): 1529-2401

Publisher: Society for Neuroscience

PubMed id: 12930801