Heterogeneity of glycinergic and gabaergic interneurons in the granule cell layer of mouse cerebellum

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Abstract

Interneurons of the cerebellum granule cell layer (GCL) form distinct populations. Golgi cells extend dendrites in the molecular layer (ML) and innervate granule cells. In contrast, Lugaro cells have dendrites confined to the GCL but innervate interneurons in the ML, and globular cells have both their dendrites and axons in the ML. The latter cells were described recently and remain poorly characterized. Although several neurochemical markers have been associated selectively with GCL interneurons, it is unclear how they relate to their morphological classification and neurochemical phenotype (glycinergic and/or γ-aminobutyric acid [GABA]ergic). Here, we performed a detailed characterization of GCL interneurons in mice expressing enhanced green fluorescent protein (GFP) in glycinergic and GABAergic neurons, respectively. By using immunofluorescence for metabotropic glutamate receptor 2 (mGluR2) and neurogranin as markers, we demonstrate the existence of five non-overlapping subsets of Golgi cells: about 65% are glycinergic/GABAergic and co-express both markers. Two small subsets (5–10%) also contain both neurotransmitters but express only mGluR2; they are distinguished by cell body size and location in the GCL. The fourth subset (15%) is GABAergic only and expresses neurogranin. The fifth subset (5%) is glycinergic only and lacks both markers. Thus, the heterogeneity of Golgi cells suggests that they belong to specific functional circuits and are differentially regulated by mGluRs and Ca2+-calmodulin-dependent signaling pathways. In contrast to Golgi cells, Lugaro and globular cells are glycinergic/GABAergic and lack mGluR2 and neurogranin. They each represent at least 15% of GCL interneurons and extensively innervate stellate and basket cells, but not Purkinje cells, emphasizing their contribution to inhibitory control of ML interneurons. J. Comp. Neurol. 500:71–83, 2007. © 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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