Retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) are the output cells of the retina; they convert synaptic input into spike output that carries visual information to the brain. Synaptic inputs are received, integrated and communicated to the spike initiation zone of the axon by dendrites whose properties are poorly understood. Here simultaneous patch-clamp recording and 2-photon Ca2+ imaging are used to study voltage- and light-evoked Ca2+ signals in the dendrites of identified types of mouse RGCs from parallel ONand OFF pathways, which encode the onset and offset of light, respectively. The results show pathway-specific differences in voltage-dependent Ca2+ signaling. While both ON and OFF cells express high-voltage-activated (HVA) Ca2+ channels, only OFF RGCs also express low-voltage-activated (LVA) Ca 2+ channels. LVA Ca2+ channels in OFF cells are deinactivated by hyperpolarization from the resting potential and give rise to rebound excited Ca2+ spikes at the termination of a step of either hyperpolarizing current or light. This suggests that the differential expression of voltage-gated Ca2+ channels in ON and OFF RGC dendrites contributes to differences in the way the two cell types process visual stimuli.
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