Seminar: Diverse Glycinergic Receptor Subunits & Retinal Ganglion Cell Visual Function

Maureen A. McCall, Professor and Kentucky Lions Eye Research Endowed Chair, at University of Louisville will be delivering a seminar on “Diverse Glycinergic Receptor Subunits & Retinal Ganglion Cell Visual Function” on Wednesday, March 21st at 12:00 Noon in the  Moran Eye Center auditorium.

Abstract: In the retina excitatory signaling lays down the basic foundation of visual processing and inhibition shapes excitation to produce the diverse visual responses of its almost 40 different ganglion cell types. Much of inhibition occurs from the inputs of the ~50 amacrine cells (ACs). Approximately half of these amacrine cells are GABAergic and the others are glycinergic. This is unlike the rest of the CNS, where either GABA or glycine is the primary inhibitory neurotransmitter and there are fewer interneurons. AC inputs mediate feedforward, feedback, crossover and serial inhibition that ultimately shape the excitatory output of bipolar cells (BCs), as well as the responses of GCs. In general, GABA inhibition refines spatial responses (object size, shape and location in space and direction of object motion and glycine inhibition shapes temporal responses (object motion and velocity, and the timing of responses to standing contrast. This is a simplistic view, belied by recent studies suggesting that each AC type may uniquely shape visual function and by extension must be crucial to mechanisms that control the diversity of visual responses of the ~40 GC types that form parallel processing channels and establish the framework for all subsequent vision. We know from BCs that inhibitory diversity is enhanced by expression of different inhibitory subunits with different deactivation kinetics, e.g., GABAA, GABAC and. A role for GlyRα subunit diversity is clear in both spinal cord and brainstem, where individual.

GlyRαs create a variety of synaptic interactions to tune the postsynaptic response and modulate different functions15-17. Because the retina has a wider diversity of interneurons (ACs), and it is the only structure that expresses all 4 GlyRα subunits, in addition to GABARs, we hypothesize that this variety contributes substantially to GC visual function. I will discuss the distribution and function of glycinergic receptor isoforms across the retina and retinal ganglion cells. I will describe what we have found about the roles of glycine subunit specific inhibition in shaping the visual responses of retinal ganglion cells.

Seminar: A Form of Control: TRPV4 Channels in the Eye

Nicholas A. Delamere, Professor and Head, Dept. of Physiology; Professor, Dept. of Ophthalmology & Vision Science, University of Arizona will be delivering a seminar on “A Form of Control: TRPV4 Channels in the Eye” on Wednesday, February 21st at 12:00 Noon in the  Moran Eye Center auditorium.


Abstract: Lens transparency requires precise maintenance of ion and water content (homeostasis), something that is difficult to achieve because of the unique properties of lens cells. The seminar will discuss how a particular type of ion channel, TRPV4, acts as a sensor in a remote control mechanism that makes homeostasis possible. The case will be made that lens TRPV4 is activated by mechanical forces. It will be argued that TRPV4 activation works like a switch that opens connexin hemichannels, causing the lens to release signaling molecules that adjust Na,K-ATPase activity in its epithelium monolayer. The significance to human well-being is that cataract is frequently associated with failed homeostasis. In a broader context, the seminar will review TRPV4 expression in other parts of the eye. The ciliary body also uses TRPV4 to sense and respond to mechanical stimuli, perhaps to adjust the driving force for aqueous humor secretion.

Seminar: Photoreceptor Energy Metabolism Directs Neovascular Retinal Disease

Lois E. H. Smith, Professor of Ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School, Boston Children’s Hospital will be delivering a seminar on “Photoreceptor Energy Metabolism Directs Neovascular Retinal Disease” on Wednesday, March 14th at 12:00 Noon in the  Moran Eye Center auditorium.

Abstract: Neuronal energy demands are met by a tightly coupled and adaptive vascular network that supplies nutrients and oxygen. The retina is one of the highest energy-consuming organs, exceeding the metabolic rate of the brain; blood vessels grow and regress in reaction to changes in these high demands. Reduced nutrients and reduced oxygen availability instigate compensatory albeit misguided pathological neovascularization in proliferative retinopathies. Conversely, impaired retinal ganglion cell and photoreceptor survival are correlated with abrogated vascular development and as neurons degenerate, the retinal vasculature atrophies to match the reduced metabolic requirements. In mice, photoreceptor degeneration is associated with thinning of the choroid and inner retinal blood vessels. Conditions such as diabetic retinopathy, vaso-proliferative retinopathy of prematurity and neovascular age-related macular degeneration (AMD) have been characterized as diseases of the vasculature. However, it is becoming more evident that the metabolic needs of the neural retina profoundly influence blood vessel supply in development and in disease.

Retinal oxygen sources and the vaso-proliferative response to low oxygen levels have been well characterized. However, understanding the specific fuels used in the retina to generate ATP and supply building blocks for biosynthesis, as well as understanding the vaso-proliferative response to the lack of fuel are also key to neurovascular development. The metabolic and energy needs of the retina have been assumed to be met by glucose, as the retina is part of the CNS, and the brain relies almost exclusively on glucose. There are two primary pathways that cells can use to generate ATP from glucose, glycolysis and oxidative phosphorylation. However, Cohen and Noell concluded in 1960 that a substantial portion of the energy produced through oxidation by the retina (around 65%) was not derived from glucose. We recently showed that the retina (photoreceptors) can also oxidize lipid through fatty acid β-oxidation to produce ATP, accounting for the energy gap noted by Cohen. Both glucose and lipid metabolism are forces that shape the vascular supply of the eye in development and in vaso-proliferative eye diseases.