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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2002 Nov 26;99(24):15764-9. Epub 2002 Nov 18.

Fast synaptic transmission between striatal spiny projection neurons.

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Unit of Neural Network Physiology, Laboratory of Systems Neuroscience, National Institute of Mental Health, 9000 Rockville Pike, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.


Striatal inhibition plays an important role in models of cortex-basal ganglia function and is altered in many basal ganglia diseases. The gamma-aminobutyric acid ergic spiny projection neuron comprises >95% of striatal neurons, but despite strong anatomical evidence, the electrophysiological properties and functions of their local axon collaterals are unknown. We simultaneously recorded from adjacent spiny projection neurons (<5-10 microm) in whole-cell patch mode and demonstrated a fast synaptic connection between 2669 pairs in cortex-striatum-substantia nigra organotypic cultures and 538 pairs in acute striatal slices. The synapse, which was blocked by gamma-aminobutyric acid type A antagonists, displayed a wide range of failure rates, was depolarizing at rest, and reversed above -60 mV. Presynaptic bursts of action potentials were highly correlated with total postsynaptic depolarization at rest. Synaptic transmission was optimized for burst discharge >14 Hz and showed considerable short-term plasticity, including paired-pulse depression at intervals <25 ms, intraburst facilitation, and interburst augmentation. This activity-dependent collateral interaction provides the basis for a new class of basal ganglia models in which striatal neurons cooperate as well as compete during processing of cortical inputs.

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