Müller Cell Zinc Transporter-3 Labeling Suggests a Role in Outer Retina Zinc Homeostasis
Labeling for zinc transporter protein-3 (ZnT-3), which can be found localized to glutamatergic vesicles elsewhere in the nervous system, has revealed an unexpectedly high concentration of this transporter protein in the outer limiting membrane region of the murine retina, a region that contains the mitochondria-rich portion of photoreceptor inner segments and is not involved with vesicle release. Having suggested the possibility that Müller cell apical villi forming the outer limiting membrane may be associated with the labeling observed, we used immunohistochemical techniques to look for ZnT-3 labeling of Müller cells isolated from rat and mouse retinas. With DAB labeling, rat Müller cell apical villi, soma, and endfeet exhibited ZnT-3 reactivity. FITC label and confocal analysis revealed that ZnT-3 protein appeared throughout the length of mouse Müller cells. We conclude from these observations that the dense labeling for ZnT-3 in the photoreceptor inner segment region of murine retinal slices is due to labeling of ZnT-3 protein associated with Müller cell apical villi. Based on these findings we suggest that Müller cells utilize ZnT-3 to regulate retinal zinc homeostasis and that this role is important to mitochondrial function in the photoreceptor inner segments.
The authors express their appreciation to Dr. Richard D Palmiter for providing the primary ZnT-3 antibody used in these studies. This study was supported in part by Fight for Sight, NSF grant 0615987, PSC/CUNY grant 68490-0037, and NCRR/NIH RCMI award RR-03037.