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J Neurophysiol. 2014 May;111(9):1812-22. doi: 10.1152/jn.00821.2013. Epub 2014 Feb 12.

Chemical synaptic transmission onto superficial stellate cells of the mouse dorsal cochlear nucleus.

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Neuroscience Graduate Program, Oregon Health and Science University, Portland, Oregon; and.


The dorsal cochlear nucleus (DCN) is a cerebellum-like auditory brain stem region whose functions include sound localization and multisensory integration. Although previous in vivo studies have shown that glycinergic and GABAergic inhibition regulate the activity of several DCN cell types in response to sensory stimuli, data regarding the synaptic inputs onto DCN inhibitory interneurons remain limited. Using acute DCN slices from mice, we examined the properties of excitatory and inhibitory synapses onto the superficial stellate cell, a poorly understood cell type that provides inhibition to DCN output neurons (fusiform cells) as well as to local inhibitory interneurons (cartwheel cells). Excitatory synapses onto stellate cells activated both NMDA receptors and fast-gating, Ca(2+)-permeable AMPA receptors. Inhibition onto superficial stellate cells was mediated by glycine and GABAA receptors with different temporal kinetics. Paired recordings revealed that superficial stellate cells make reciprocal synapses and autapses, with a connection probability of ∼ 18-20%. Unexpectedly, superficial stellate cells co-released both glycine and GABA, suggesting that co-transmission may play a role in fine-tuning the duration of inhibitory transmission.


auditory; cochlear nucleus; inhibition; interneuron

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