Potassium currents distinguish the two subtypes of morphologically distinct skate bipolar cells. Academic Article uri icon


  • Bipolar cells in the vertebrate retina are second-order neurons that convey visual information from photoreceptors to ganglion cells, the neurons that relay the message to the brain. Bipolar cells consist typically of multiple subtypes that differ in their morphology, synaptic connections, and response properties. The individual subtypes are thought to carry different aspects of the visual signal through the retina, and they often exhibit unique membrane properties and neurotransmitter receptors. In the all-rod skate retina, only two morphologically and pharmacologically distinct subtypes of bipolar cell have been identified thus far. The large-field bipolar cells, with extensive dendritic arbors, are glycine-insensitive, whereas the small-field bipolar cells, which have only one or two dendritic branches, are sensitive to glycine. In the present study, we explored further the membrane properties of these two subtypes of skate bipolar cell with emphasis on the voltage-sensitive potassium currents. Our results show that the cells exhibit different voltage-activated current profiles, suggesting that the signals they transmit contain different features of the visual scene.

publication date

  • December 2004