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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2009 Jun 30;106(26):10835-40. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0903463106. Epub 2009 Jun 17.

Dendro-dendritic bundling and shared synapses between gonadotropin-releasing hormone neurons.

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Department of Physiology, Centre for Neuroendocrinology, University of Otago School of Medical Sciences, Dunedin, New Zealand.


The pulsatile release of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) is critical for mammalian fertility, but the mechanisms underlying the synchronization of GnRH neurons are unknown. In the present study, the full extent of the GnRH neuron dendritic tree was visualized by patching and filling individual GnRH neurons with biocytin in acute brain slices from adult GnRH-green fluorescent protein (GFP) transgenic mice. Confocal analysis of 42 filled GnRH neurons from male and female adult mice revealed that the dendrites of the great majority of GnRH neurons (86%) formed multiple close appositions with dendrites of other GnRH neurons. Two types of interactions were encountered; the predominant interaction was one of vertical dendritic bundling where dendrites were found to wrap around each other in the same axis. The other interaction was one in which a GnRH neuron dendrite intercepted other GnRH neuron dendrites in a perpendicular fashion. Electron microscopy using pre-embedded, silver-enhanced immunogold labeling for both GnRH and GFP peptides in GnRH-GFP transgenic mice, confirmed that GnRH neuron dendrites were often immediately juxtaposed. Membrane specializations, including punctae and zonula adherens, were found connecting adjacent dendritic elements of GnRH neurons. Remarkably, individual afferent axon terminals were found to synapse with multiple GnRH neuron dendrites at sites of bundling. Together, these data demonstrate that GnRH neurons are not isolated from one another but, rather, interconnected via their long dendritic extensions. The observation of shared synaptic input to bundled GnRH neuron dendrites suggests a mechanism of GnRH neuron synchronization.

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