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J Neurosci. 2010 Feb 10;30(6):2223-34. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4870-09.2010.

Distinct roles of GABAergic interneurons in the regulation of striatal output pathways.

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  • 1Gladstone Institute of Neurological Disease, Department of Physiology, and Department of Neurology, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California 94158, USA.


Striatal GABAergic microcircuits are critical for motor function, yet their properties remain enigmatic due to difficulties in targeting striatal interneurons for electrophysiological analysis. Here, we use Lhx6-GFP transgenic mice to identify GABAergic interneurons and investigate their regulation of striatal direct- and indirect-pathway medium spiny neurons (MSNs). We find that the two major interneuron populations, persistent low-threshold spiking (PLTS) and fast spiking (FS) interneurons, differ substantially in their excitatory inputs and inhibitory outputs. Excitatory synaptic currents recorded from PLTS interneurons are characterized by a small, nonrectifying AMPA receptor-mediated component and a NMDA receptor-mediated component. In contrast, glutamatergic synaptic currents in FS interneurons have a large, strongly rectifying AMPA receptor-mediated component, but no detectable NMDA receptor-mediated responses. Consistent with their axonal morphology, the output of individual PLTS interneurons is relatively weak and sparse, whereas FS interneurons are robustly connected to MSNs and other FS interneurons and appear to mediate the bulk of feedforward inhibition. Synaptic depression of FS outputs is relatively insensitive to firing frequency, and dynamic-clamp experiments reveal that these short-term dynamics enable feedforward inhibition to remain efficacious across a broad frequency range. Surprisingly, we find that FS interneurons preferentially target direct-pathway MSNs over indirect-pathway MSNs, suggesting a potential mechanism for rapid pathway-specific regulation of striatal output pathways.

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