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Light-related changes in electron-dense material in photoreceptor synaptic clefts of the frog, Rana catesbeiana.

  • Tsukamoto, Y
Published Article
Cell and tissue research
Publication Date
Jan 01, 1983
PMID: 6607112


Lumps of electron-dense material were observed in synaptic clefts associated with all types of photoreceptors, in the vicinity of the synaptic ribbons, in the retinae of dark-adapted frogs. Frogs were reared under a cyclic illumination (light on at 8:00; light off at 20:00) and then exposed to one of two courses of dark adaptation: one started from 11:00 in the morning, and the other started from 20:00 in the evening. The synaptic clefts of red rods became wider at some places where spherical or polygonal lumps of dense material were accumulated. The frequency and sectional area of the lumps increased faster for the first hour in the regime starting from 20:00 than in the regime starting from 11:00, then they reached the similar saturation levels of about 0.6 (per ribbon) and 1.6 to 1.8 X 10(4) (nm2) in both the regimes. In green-rod synapses, plate-shaped lumps of dense material were present in synaptic clefts and interspaces between the processes of second-order neurons. In cone synapses at the end of about 1 h darkness, the frequency and area of the lumps reached maximum values of about 0.12 (per ribbon) and 9 X 10(3) (nm2) in the regime starting from 11:00 and, about 0.08 (per ribbon) and 4 X 10(3) (nm2) in the regime starting from 20:00. On exposure to light, the dense material abruptly disappeared from all types of photoreceptor synaptic clefts. Large dense-core vesicles, occasionally observed in light-adapted rod photoreceptor terminals, seem to participate in exocytosis of the dense material. The number of dense-core vesicles per synaptic ribbon in a terminal was about 0.55 at the end of 3 h light in the morning and about 1.28 at the end of 12 h light in the evening. The increased number of dense-core vesicles during the daytime may contribute to the faster accumulation of dense material in the synaptic clefts. Although the chemical identification or the functional significance of the electron-dense material remains unknown, it is interesting that this material showed a rise and fall in response to darkness and illumination. Also the fact that this material is clearly visible will be helpful for future analysis of frog photoreceptor synapses.

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