Direct gating by retinoic acid of retinal electrical synapses.

Zhang DQ, McMahon DG
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2000 97 (26): 14754-9

PMID: 11114157 · PMCID: PMC18991 · DOI:10.1073/pnas.010325897

Retinoic acid (RA), a signaling molecule derived from vitamin A, controls growth and differentiation of a variety of cell types through regulation of gene transcription. In the vertebrate retina, RA also regulates gap junction-mediated physiological coupling of retinal neurons through a nontranscriptional mechanism. Here we report that RA rapidly and specifically modulates synaptic transmission at electrical synapses of cultured retinal horizontal cells through an external RAR(beta)(/gamma)-like binding site, the action of which is independent of second messenger cascades. External application of all-trans retinoic acid (at-RA) reversibly reduced the amplitude of gap junctional conductance in a dose-dependent manner, but failed to affect non-gap-junctional channels, including glutamate receptors. In contrast, internal dialysis with at-RA was ineffective, indicating an external site of action. Selective RAR(beta)(/gamma) ligands, but not an RAR(alpha)-selective agonist, mimicked the action of at-RA, suggesting that gating of gap junctional channels is mediated through an RAR(beta)(/gamma)-like binding site. At-RA did not act on gap junctional conductance by lowering [pH](i) or by increasing [Ca(2+)](i). A G protein inhibitor and protein kinase inhibitors did not block at-RA uncoupling effects indicating no second messenger systems were involved. Direct action of at-RA on gap junction channels was further supported by its equivalent action on whole-cell hemi-gap-junctional currents and on cell-free excised patch hemichannel currents. At-RA significantly reduced single-channel open probability but did not change unitary conductance. Overall, the results indicate that RA modulates horizontal cell electrical synapses by activation of novel nonnuclear RAR(beta)(/gamma)-like sites either directly on, or intimately associated with, gap junction channels.

MeSH Terms (13)

Adenosine Triphosphate Animals Bass Cells, Cultured Electrophysiology Gap Junctions Glucuronides Guanosine Triphosphate Receptors, Retinoic Acid Retina Retinoic Acid Receptor alpha Synapses Tretinoin

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