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Functional localization of neurotransmitter receptors and synaptic inputs to mature neurons of the medial superior olive

J Neurophysiol 107: 1186-98. doi: 10.1152/jn.00586

Authors/Editors: Couchman K
Grothe B
Felmy F
Publication Date: 2012
Type of Publication: Journal Articles 2001 - 2017

Abstract

Neurons of the medial superior olive (MSO) code for the azimuthal location of low-frequency sound sources via a binaural coincidence detection system operating on microsecond time scales. These neurons are morphologically simple and stereotyped, and anatomical studies have indicated a functional segregation of excitatory and inhibitory inputs between cellular compartments. It is thought that this morphological arrangement holds important implications for the computational task of these cells. To date, however, there has been no functional investigation into synaptic input sites or functional receptor distributions on mature neurons of the MSO. Here, functional neurotransmitter receptor maps for amino-3-hydroxyl-5-methyl-4-isoxazole propionate (AMPA), N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA), glycine (Gly), and ionotropic γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA(A)) receptors (Rs) were compared and complemented by their corresponding synaptic input map. We find in MSO neurons from postnatal day 20-35 gerbils that AMPARs and their excitatory inputs target the soma and dendrites. Functional GlyRs and their inhibitory inputs are predominantly refined to the somata, although a pool of functional GlyRs is present extrasynaptically on MSO dendrites. GABA(A)R responses are present throughout the cell but lack direct synaptic contact indicating an involvement in volume transmission. NMDARs are present both synaptically and extrasynaptically with an overall distribution similar to GlyRs. Interestingly, even at physiological temperatures these functional NMDARs can be potentiated by synaptically released Gly. The functional receptor and synaptic input maps produced here led to the identification of a cross talk between transmitter systems and raises the possibility that extrasynaptic receptors could be modulating leak conductances as a homeostatic mechanism.

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