Membrane properties of type II spiral ganglion neurones identified in a neonatal rat cochlear slice

Authors

  • Daniel J. Jagger,

    1. Department of Physiology, University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland, New Zealand
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  • Gary D. Housley

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Physiology, University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland, New Zealand
    • Corresponding author G. D. Housley: Molecular Physiology Laboratory, Department of Physiology, University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland, New Zealand. Email: g.housley@auckland.ac.nz

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Abstract

Neuro-anatomical studies in the mammalian cochlea have previously identified a subpopulation of approximately 5% of primary auditory neurones, designated type II spiral ganglion neurones (sgnII). These neurones project to outer hair cells and their supporting cells, within the ‘cochlear amplifier’ region. Physiological characterization of sgnII has proven elusive. Whole-cell patch clamp of spiral ganglion neurones in P7-P10 rat cochlear slices provided functional characterization of sgnII, identified by biocytin or Lucifer yellow labelling of their peripheral neurite projections (outer spiral fibres) subsequent to electrophysiological characterisation. SgnII terminal fields comprised multiple outer hair cells and supporting cells, located up to 370 μm basal to their soma. SgnII firing properties were defined by rapidly inactivating A-type-like potassium currents that suppress burst firing of action potentials. Type I spiral ganglion neurones (sgnI), had shorter radial projections to single inner hair cells and exhibited larger potassium currents with faster activation and slower inactivation kinetics, compatible with the high temporal firing fidelity seen in auditory nerve coding. Based on these findings, sgnII may be identified in future by the A-type current. Glutamate-gated somatic currents in sgnII were more potentiated by cyclothiazide than those in sgnI, suggesting differential AMPA receptor expression. ATP-activated desensitising inward currents were comparable in sgn II and sgnI. These data support a role for sgnII in providing integrated afferent feedback from the cochlear amplifier.

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