Journal of Neuroscience
The rapid re-uptake of extracellular glutamate mediated by a family of high-affinity glutamate transporter proteins is essential to continued glutamatergic signaling and neuronal viability, but the contributions of individual transporter subtypes toward cellular physiology are poorly understood. Because the physiology of glutamate transport in the salamander retina has been well described, we have examined the expression and function of glutamate transporter subtypes in this preparation. cDNAs encoding five distinct salamander excitatory amino acid transporter (sEAAT) subtypes were isolated, and their molecular properties and distributions of expression were compared. We report evidence that at least four distinct sEAAT subtypes are expressed in glial (Müller) cells. In addition, four of the five transporter subtypes are localized in neurons throughout the retina. The brightest immunostaining was seen in the synaptic regions of the inner and outer plexiform layers and in the outer nuclear layer. Using electrophysiological measurements in the Xenopus oocyte expression system, we also examined the pharmacology and ionic dependence of the four expressing transporter subtypes that make it possible to distinguish, on the basis of functional behavior, among the various subtypes. Although no simple correlation between transporter subtype and retinal cell physiology can be made, the diverse population of sEAAT transporter subtypes with unique localization and functional properties indicates that glutamate transporters play a wide variety of roles in retinal function and are likely to underlie both the uptake of glutamate by Müller cells and the glutamate-elicited chloride conductance involved in signal transduction by photoreceptors and bipolar cells.
© 1998 Society for Neuroscience