Amino acid signatures in the normal cat retina.
PURPOSE To establish a nomogram of amino acid signatures in normal neurons, glia, and retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) of the cat retina, guided by the premise that micromolecular signatures reflect cellular identity and metabolic integrity. The long-range objective was to provide techniques to detect subtle aberrations in cellular metabolism engendered by model interventions such as focal retinal detachment. METHODS High-performance immunochemical mapping, image registration, and quantitative pattern recognition were combined to analyze the amino acid contents of virtually all cell types in serial 200-nm sections of normal cat retina. RESULTS The cellular cohorts of the cat retina formed 14 separable biochemical theme classes. The photoreceptor --> bipolar cell --> ganglion cell pathway was composed of six classes, each possessing a characteristic glutamate signature. Amacrine cells could be grouped into two glycine- and three gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)-dominated populations. Horizontal cells possessed a distinctive GABA-rich signature completely separate from that of amacrine cells. A stable taurine-glutamine signature defined Müller cells, and a broad-spectrum aspartate-glutamate-taurine-glutamine signature was present in the normal RPE. CONCLUSIONS In this study, basic micromolecular signatures were established for cat retina, and multiple metabolic subtypes were identified for each neurochemical class. It was shown that virtually all neuronal space can be accounted for by cells bearing characteristic glutamate, GABA, or glycine signatures. The resultant signature matrix constitutes a nomogram for assessing cellular responses to experimental challenges in disease models.