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Evidence is emerging indicating that sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P) participates in signaling in the retina. To determine whether S1P might be involved in signaling in the inner retina specifically, we examine the effects of this sphingolipid on cultured retinal amacrine cells. Whole cell voltage-clamp recordings reveal that S1P activates a cation current that is dependent on signaling through Gi and phospholipase C. These observations are consistent with the involvement of members of the S1P receptor family of G-protein-coupled receptors in the production of the current. Immunocytochemistry and PCR amplification provide evidence for the expression of S1P1R and S1P3R in amacrine cells. The receptor-mediated channel activity is shown to be highly sensitive to blockade by lanthanides consistent with the behavior of transient receptor potential canonical (TRPC) channels. PCR products amplified from amacrine cells reveal that TRPCs 1 and 3-7 channel subunits have the potential to be expressed. Because TRPC channels provide a Ca2+ entry pathway, we asked whether S1P caused cytosolic Ca2+ elevations in amacrine cells. We show that S1P-dependent Ca2+ elevations do occur in these cells and that they might be mediated by S1P1R and S1P3R. The Ca2+ elevations are partially due to release from internal stores, but the largest contribution is from influx across the plasma membrane. The effect of inhibition of sphingosine kinase suggests that the production of cytosolic S1P underlies the sustained nature of the Ca2+ elevations. Elucidation of the downstream effects of these signals will provide clues to the role of S1P in regulating inner retinal function. Copyright © 2009 The American Physiological Society.

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Journal of Neurophysiology

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