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Keywords:

  • cerebral cortex;
  • somatodendritic membrane-targeted green fluorescent protein;
  • transgenic mice;
  • vesicular GABA transporter;
  • vesicular glutamate transporter

Abstract

To examine inputs to parvalbumin (PV)-producing interneurons, we generated transgenic mice expressing somatodendritic membrane-targeted green fluorescent protein specifically in the interneurons, and completely visualized their dendrites and somata. Using immunolabeling for vesicular glutamate transporter (VGluT)1, VGluT2, and vesicular GABA transporter, we found that VGluT1-positive terminals made contacts 4- and 3.1-fold more frequently with PV-producing interneurons than VGluT2-positive and GABAergic terminals, respectively, in the primary somatosensory cortex. Even in layer 4, where VGluT2-positive terminals were most densely distributed, VGluT1-positive inputs to PV-producing interneurons were 2.4-fold more frequent than VGluT2-positive inputs. Furthermore, although GABAergic inputs to PV-producing interneurons were as numerous as VGluT2-positive inputs in most cortical layers, GABAergic inputs clearly preferred the proximal dendrites and somata of the interneurons, indicating that the sites of GABAergic inputs were more optimized than those of VGluT2-positive inputs. Simulation analysis with a PV-producing interneuron model compatible with the present morphological data revealed a plausible reason for this observation, by showing that GABAergic and glutamatergic postsynaptic potentials evoked by inputs to distal dendrites were attenuated to 60 and 87%, respectively, of those evoked by somatic inputs. As VGluT1-positive and VGluT2-positive axon terminals were presumed to be cortical and thalamic glutamatergic inputs, respectively, cortical excitatory inputs to PV-producing interneurons outnumbered the thalamic excitatory and intrinsic inhibitory inputs more than two-fold in any cortical layer. Although thalamic inputs are known to evoke about two-fold larger unitary excitatory postsynaptic potentials than cortical ones, the present results suggest that cortical inputs control PV-producing interneurons at least as strongly as thalamic inputs.