Cholinergic signaling in the retina is mediated by acetylcholine (ACh) released from starburst amacrine cells (SACs), which are key neurons for motion detection. SACs comprise ON and OFF subtypes, which morphologically show mirror symmetry to each other. Although many physiological studies on SACs have targeted ON cells only, the synaptic computation of ON and OFF SACs is assumed to be similar. Recent studies demonstrated that gene expression patterns and receptor types differed between ON and OFF SACs, suggesting differences in their functions. Here, we compared cholinergic signaling pathways between ON and OFF SACs in the mouse retina using the patch clamp technique. The application of ACh increased GABAergic feedback, observed as postsynaptic currents to SACs, in both ON and OFF SACs; however, the mode of GABAergic feedback differed. Nicotinic receptors mediated GABAergic feedback in both ON and OFF SACs, while muscarinic receptors mediated GABAergic feedback in ON SACs only in adults. Neither tetrodotoxin, which blocked action potentials, nor LY354740, which blocked neurotransmitter release from SACs, eliminated ACh-induced GABAergic feedback in SACs. These results suggest that ACh-induced GABAergic feedback in ON and OFF SACs is regulated by different feedback mechanisms in adults and mediated by non-spiking amacrine cells other than SACs.

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