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J Neurosci. 2015 Jan 7;35(1):112-27. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3426-14.2015.

Diversity of glutamatergic synaptic strength in lateral prefrontal versus primary visual cortices in the rhesus monkey.

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Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts 02118
Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts 02118.


Understanding commonalities and differences in glutamatergic synaptic signaling is essential for understanding cortical functional diversity, especially in the highly complex primate brain. Previously, we have shown that spontaneous EPSCs differed markedly in layer 3 pyramidal neurons of two specialized cortical areas in the rhesus monkey, the high-order lateral prefrontal cortex (LPFC) and the primary visual cortex (V1). Here, we used patch-clamp recordings and confocal and electron microscopy to determine whether these distinct synaptic responses are due to differences in firing rates of presynaptic neurons and/or in the features of presynaptic or postsynaptic entities. As with spontaneous EPSCs, TTX-insensitive (action potential-independent) miniature EPSCs exhibited significantly higher frequency, greater amplitude, and slower kinetics in LPFC compared with V1 neurons. Consistent with these physiological differences, LPFC neurons possessed higher densities of spines, and the mean width of large spines was greater compared with those on V1 neurons. Axospinous synapses in layers 2-3 of LPFC had larger postsynaptic density surface areas and a higher proportion of large perforated synapses compared with V1. Axonal boutons in LPFC were also larger in volume and contained ∼ 1.6× more vesicles than did those in V1. Further, LPFC had a higher density of AMPA GluR2 receptor labeling than V1. The properties of spines and synaptic currents of individual layer 3 pyramidal neurons measured here were significantly correlated, consistent with the idea that significantly more frequent and larger synaptic currents are likely due to more numerous, larger, and more powerful synapses in LPFC compared with V1.


GluR2; Macaca mulatta; electron microscopy; glutamate; layers 2/3 pyramidal neurons; whole-cell patch clamp

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