Onbipolar cells are connected to photoreceptors via a sign-inverting synapse. At this synapse, glutamate binds to a metabotropic receptor which couples to the closure of a cation-selective transduction channel. The molecular identity of both the receptor and the G protein are known, but the identity of the transduction channel has remained elusive. Here, we show that the transduction channel in mouse rod bipolar cells, a subtype of On bipolar cell, is likely to be a member of the TRP family of channels. To evoke a transduction current, the metabotropic receptor antagonist LY341495 was applied to the dendrites of cells that were bathed in a solution containing the mGluR6 agonists L-AP4 or glutamate. The transduction current was suppressed by ruthenium red and the TRPV1 antagonists capsazepine and SB-366791. Furthermore, focal application of the TRPV1 agonists capsaicin and anandamide evoked a transduction-like current. The capsaicin-evoked and endogenous transduction current displayed prominent outward rectification, a property of the TRPV1 channel. To test the possibility that the transduction channel is TRPV1, we measured rod bipolar cell function in the TRPV1-/- mouse. The ERG b-wave, a measure of On bipolar cell function, as well as the transduction current and the response to TRPV1 agonists were normal, arguing against a role for TRPV1. However, ERG measurements from mice lacking TRPM1 receptors, another TRP channel implicated in retinal function, revealed the absence of a b-wave. Our results suggest that a TRP-like channel, possibly TRPM1, is essential for synaptic function in On bipolar cells.
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