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J Neurosci. 2002 Dec 15;22(24):10720-30.

Bergmann glia GABA(A) receptors concentrate on the glial processes that wrap inhibitory synapses.

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  • 1Department of Physiology and Neurobiology, University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut 06269, USA.


We studied the cellular and subcellular distribution of GABA(A) receptors in the Bergmann glia and Purkinje cells in the molecular layer of the cerebellum by using electron microscopy postembedding immunogold techniques. Gold particles corresponding to alpha2 and gamma1 immunoreactivity were localized in Bergmann glia processes that wrapped Purkinje cell somata, dendritic shafts, and some dendritic spines. The gold particles were mainly located on the glial plasma membrane or intracellularly but near the plasma membrane. The density of gold particles corresponding to alpha2 and gamma1 GABA(A) receptor subunits was 4.3-fold higher in the glial processes wrapping Purkinje cell somata than in the glial processes wrapping Purkinje cell dendritic spines. Moreover, the Bergmann glia GABA(A) receptors were often located in close proximity to the type II GABAergic synapses made by the basket cell axons on Purkinje cell somata. These GABAergic synapses were enriched in neuronal GABA(A) receptors containing alpha1 and beta2/3 subunits. Unexpectedly, 2.8% of the Purkinje cell dendritic spines also showed immunoreactivity for the neuronal alpha1 or beta2/3 subunits, which were located on the spine in type I synapses or extrasynaptically. Double-labeling immunogold experiments showed that approximately 50% of the dendritic spines that were immunolabeled with the neuronal GABA(A) receptors were wrapped by Bergmann glia processes containing glial GABA(A) receptors. These results are consistent with a role of the Bergmann glial GABA(A) receptors in sensing GABAergic synaptic function.

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