Primary Department Affiliation
: Vision Sciences

Phone: 205.934.7757
Fax: 205.934.5725

Recent Publications


Research Interests:

My research interests center on acetylcholine and Ach receptors. Acetylcholine (Ach) is used as a transmitter in many portions of the vertebrate nervous system and much information is available concerning the cells that contain it and its synthesis and release mechanisms.

However, until recently little was known about Ach receptors and the neurons that express them. During the past several years various groups have

  1. purified the ligand-binding (a) and structural (b) subunits of neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs),
  2. cloned their cDNAs, and
  3. raised antibodies against them.

These studies have revealed that there are at least 11 different subunits which, in various combinations, can theoretically yield a vast number of nAChRsubtypes, each characterized by a unique subunit composition. Many of the subtypes that have been described to date differ from one another in their pharmacological characteristics. Therefore, the effects of Ach or its agonists depends upon which receptor subtype is present at a given synapse. Acetylcholine is known to act as a transmitter in the retina and affects the response properties of many ganglion cells, including those that display directional selectivity. My research program involves the investigation of the normal pattern of expression of nAChRs in the retina and central visual structures during embryogenesis and in the adult animal.

Another aspect of the research involves the detection of additional receptor subunits/subtypes and the determination of what receptor subunits are found together within individual receptor complexes. Among my long term goals are studies of the factors that regulate expression of different Ach receptor subtypes in various areas of the nervous system. (Dr. Keyser is currently PI on Grant EY07845.)

Selected Publications:

Wang, F., Gerzanich, V., Wells, G.B., Anand, R., Peng, X., Keyser, K.T., and Lindstrom, J. Assembly of the human neuronal nicotinic receptor a3 subunit with b2, b4 and a5 subunits. J. Biol. Chem.271(30):17656-17665, 1996

Dmitrieva, N., Y. Wang, J.M. Lindstrom, and K.T. Keyser. Nicotinic acetylcholine receptors. Invest. Ophthalm. Vis. Sci. (Suppl.) 38(4):949, 1997.

Amthor, F. R., N.M. Grzywacz, K.T. Keyser, and R.F. Dacheux. Contribution of cholinergic amacrine cells to directional selectivity in rabbit retinal ganglion cells. Invest. Ophthalm. Vis. Sci. (Suppl.) 38:4, 1997.

Dmitrieva, N., Y. Wang, J.M. Lindstrom, and K.T. Keyser. The Relationship Between Gaba Containing Cells and the Cholenergic Circuitry in the Rabbit Retina. Invest. Ophthalm. Vis. Sci. (Suppl.) 39 (4):982, 1998.

Wang, Y., N. Dmitrieva, M. Tu, A. Kuryatov, J.M. Lindstrom, and K.T. Keyser. a6 Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptors are Expressed in Cells of the Ganglion Cell Layer and Inter Nuclear Layer of the Chick Retina. Invest. Ophthalm. Vis. Sci. (Suppl) 39(4):982, 1998.

Tu, M., N.Dmitrieva, Y. Wang, J.M. Lindstrom, and K.T. Keyser. Calcium Bending Proteins and Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptors in the Rabbit Retina. Invest. Ophthalm. Vis. Sci. (Suppl.) 39(4):982, 1998.

Zucker, C.L., B. Ehinger, J.M. Lindstrom, and K.T. Keyser. Extra-Junctional Cholinergic Transmission in the Retina. Submitted to J. Neurosci.


Kent T. Keyser, Professor, Department of Vision Sciences and Director of the Vision Science Research Center. He earned a B.A. (1972) in Biology from Oberlin College and a Ph.D. (1980) in Neurobiology from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. Prior to joining the UAB faculty in 1995, Dr. Keyser was an Associate Research Neuroscientist in the Department of Neurosciences, UCSD. He enjoys literature, skiing and films.