Two populations of glutamatergic axons in the rat dorsal raphe nucleus defined by the vesicular glutamate transporters 1 and 2

Authors

  • Kathryn G. Commons,

    1. University of Pennsylvania and Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine, 402 Abramson Research Center, 3516 Civic Center Blvd, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA
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  • Sheryl G. Beck,

    1. University of Pennsylvania and Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine, 402 Abramson Research Center, 3516 Civic Center Blvd, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA
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  • Vincent W. Bey

    1. University of Pennsylvania and Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine, 402 Abramson Research Center, 3516 Civic Center Blvd, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA
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Dr K. G. Commons, Harvard Medical School and Children's Hospital, Boston, 300 Longwood Ave, Enders 1206, Boston, MA 02115, USA.
E-mail: Kathryn.commons@childrens.harvard.edu

Abstract

Most glutamatergic neurons in the brain express one of two vesicular glutamate transporters, vGlut1 or vGlut2. Cortical glutamatergic neurons highly express vGlut1, whereas vGlut2 predominates in subcortical areas. In this study immunohistochemical detection of vGlut1 or vGlut2 was used in combination with tryptophan hydroxylase (TPH) to characterize glutamatergic innervation of the dorsal raphe nucleus (DRN) of the rat. Immunofluorescence labeling of both vGlut1 and vGlut2 was punctate and homogenously distributed throughout the DRN. Puncta labeled for vGlut2 appeared more numerous then those labeled for vGlut1. Ultrastructural analysis revealed axon terminals containing vGlut1 and vGlut2 formed asymmetric-type synapses 80% and 95% of the time, respectively. Postsynaptic targets of vGlut1- and vGlut2-containing axons differed in morphology. vGlut1-labeled axon terminals synapsed predominantly on small-caliber (distal) dendrites (42%, 46/110) or dendritic spines (46%, 50/110). In contrast, vGlut2-containing axons synapsed on larger caliber (proximal) dendritic shafts (> 0.5 µm diameter; 48%, 78/161). A fraction of both vGlut1- or vGlut2-labeled axons synapsed onto TPH-containing dendrites (14% and 34%, respectively). These observations reveal that different populations of glutamate-containing axons innervate selective dendritic domains of serotonergic and non-serotonergic neurons, suggesting they play different functional roles in modulating excitation within the DRN.

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