Visual Neuroscience

Research Articles

Functional localization of the nitric oxide/cGMP pathway in the salamander retina


a1 Department of Biology, Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts


Nitric oxide (NO) is a gaseous neuromodulator that has physiological functions in every cell type in the retina. Evidence indicates that NO often plays a role in the processing of visual information in the retina through the second messenger cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP). Despite numerous structural and functional studies of this signaling pathway in the retina, none have examined many of the elements of this pathway within a single study in a single species. In this study, the NO/cGMP pathway was localized to specific regions and cell types within the inner and outer retina. We have immunocytochemically localized nitric oxide synthase, the enzyme that produces NO, in photoreceptor ellipsoids, four distinct classes of amacrine cells, Müller and bipolar cells, somata in the ganglion cell layer, as well as in processes within both plexiform layers. Additionally, we localized NO production in specific cell types using the NO-sensitive dye diaminofluorescein. cGMP immunocytochemistry was used to functionally localize soluble guanylate cyclase that was activated by an NO donor in select amacrine and bipolar cell classes. Analysis of cGMP and its downstream target, cGMP-dependent protein kinase II (PKGII), showed colocalization within processes in the outer retina as well as in somata in the inner retina. The results of this study showed that the NO/cGMP signaling pathway was functional and its components were widely distributed throughout specific cell types in the outer and inner salamander retina.

(Received December 18 2008)

(Accepted April 10 2009)

(Online publication July 14 2009)



c1 Address correspondence and reprint requests to: William D. Eldred, Department of Biology, Boston University, 5 Cummington Street, Boston, MA 02215. E-mail: