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J Neurobiol. 1996 Dec;31(4):503-11.

Glycinergic transmission regulates dendrite size in organotypic culture.

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1
Center for Neural Science, New York University, New York 10003, USA. sanes@cns.nyu.edu

Abstract

We previously demonstrated that inhibitory synaptic transmission influences dendrite development in vivo. We now report an analogous finding in an organotypic culture of a glycinergic projection nucleus, the medial nucleus of the trapezoid body (MNTB), and its postsynaptic target, the lateral superior olive (LSO) of gerbils. Cultures were generated at 6-7 days postnatal and grown in serum containing medium with or without the glycine receptor antagonist, strychnine (SN), at 2 microM. LSO neurons were then labeled with biocytin, and the dendritic arbors were analyzed morphometrically. Compared to neurons form age-matched in vivo tissue, the neurons cultured in control media were somewhat atrophic, including decreases in dendritic branching and length. Incubation in strychnine led to a dramatic increase in dendritic branching and total dendritic length. Control neurons averaged 6.3 branches compared to 18 branches/neuron in SN-treated cultures. There was a similar increase in primary dendrites and total dendritic length. The physical elimination of MNTB cells did not mimic SN treatment, presumably because glycinergic LSO neurons generated intrinsic connections. In fact, the LSO soma area was significantly greater following MNTB removal, suggesting that these afferents provide a second signal to postsynaptic neurons. These results suggest that spontaneous glycinergic transmission regulates the growth of postsynaptic processes.

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