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Detailed analysis of gap junctions between photoreceptors – cone-rod contacts but not rod-rod or cone-cone detected

29 May 2022

Look Who's Talking

Texts, calls and face-to-face chats, communication comes in many forms. In nerve cells, communication occurs via electrical signals at connections called synapses and at much smaller connections called gap junctions. Imaging gap junctions amid nerve cell networks is challenging due to their size. Researchers take on this challenge using scanning electron microscopy and confocal microscopy of gap junction protein Cx36 in cones and rods, special nerve cells in mouse retina. 3D reconstructions (pictured) revealed projections from cones (green) contacting rods (other colours) where Cx36 was present, suggesting gap junction communication. Almost all gap junctions were cone-rod contacts, not cone-cone or rod-rod. Calculating the number of these contacts, they estimated how much electrical activity could pass between these cells if all gap junctions were open — it was similar to past experiments where this was actually measured. This sheds light on who's talking to who in the chatter of gap junction communication.

Written by Lux Fatimathas

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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