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J Neurophysiol. 1998 Jul;80(1):143-54.

Progression of change in NMDA, non-NMDA, and metabotropic glutamate receptor function at the developing corticothalamic synapse.

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Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, University of California, Irvine, California 92697, USA.


The development of receptor function at corticothalamic synapses during the first 20 days of postnatal development is described. Whole cell excitatory postsynaptic currents (EPSCs) were evoked in relay neurons of the ventral posterior nucleus (VP) by stimulation of corticothalamic fibers in in vitro slices of mouse brain from postnatal day 1 (P1). During P1-P12, excitatory postsynaptic conductances showed strong voltage dependence at peak current and at 100 ms after the stimulus and were almost completely antagonized by -2-amino-5-phosphonopentoic acid (APV), indicating that N-methyl--aspartate (NMDA) receptor-mediated currents dominate corticothalamic EPSCs at this time. After P12, in 42% of cells, excitatory postsynaptic conductances showed no voltage-dependence at peak current but still showed voltage-dependence 100-ms poststimulus. This voltage-dependent conductance was antagonized by APV. The nonvoltage-dependent component was APV resistant, showed fast decay, and was antagonized by the nonNMDA antagonist, 6-cyano-7-nitroquinoxaline-2,3-dione (CNQX). In the remaining 58% of cells after P12, excitatory postsynaptic conductances showed moderate voltage dependence at peak conductance and strong voltage dependence 100 ms after the stimulus. Analysis of EPSCs before and after APV showed a significant increase in the relative contribution of the non-NMDA conductance after the second postnatal week. From P1 to P16, there was a significant decrease in the time constant of decay of the NMDA EPSC but no change in the voltage dependence of the NMDA response. After P8, slow EPSPs, 1.5-30 s in duration and mediated by metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluRs), could be evoked by high-frequency stimulation of corticothalamic fibers in the presence of APV and CNQX. Similar slow depolarizations could be evoked by local application of the mGluR agonist (+/-)-1-aminocyclopentane-trans-1,3-dicarboxylic acid (t-ACPD) but from P0. Both conductances were blocked by the mGluR antagonist, (RS)-alpha-methyl-4-carboxyphenylglycine. Hence functional mGluR receptors are present on VP cells from birth, but their synaptic activation at corticothalamic synapses can only be detected after P8. In voltage clamp, the extrapolated reversal potential of the t-ACPD current, with potassium gluconate-based internal solution, was +12 +/- 10 (SE) mV, and the measured reversal potential with cesium gluconate-based internal solution was 1.5 +/- 9.9 mV, suggesting that the mGluR-mediated depolarization was mediated by a nonselective cation current. Replacement of NaCl in the external solution caused the reversal potential of the current to shift to -18 +/- 2 mV, indicating that Na+ is a charge carrier in the current. The current amplitude was not reduced by application of Cs+, Ba2+, and Cd2+, indicating that the t-ACPD current was distinct from the hyperpolarization-activated cation current (IH) and distinct from certain other previously characterized mGluR-activated, nonselective cation conductances.

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