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J Neurosci. 2018 Jun 27;38(26):5843-5853. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1737-17.2018. Epub 2018 May 23.

Preferential Targeting of Lateral Entorhinal Inputs onto Newly Integrated Granule Cells.

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Vollum Institute, Oregon Health and Science University, Portland, Oregon 97239.
Vollum Institute, Oregon Health and Science University, Portland, Oregon 97239


Mature dentate granule cells in the hippocampus receive input from the entorhinal cortex via the perforant path in precisely arranged lamina, with medial entorhinal axons innervating the middle molecular layer and lateral entorhinal cortex axons innervating the outer molecular layer. Although vastly outnumbered by mature granule cells, adult-generated newborn granule cells play a unique role in hippocampal function, which has largely been attributed to their enhanced excitability and plasticity (Schmidt-Hieber et al., 2004; Ge et al., 2007). Inputs from the medial and lateral entorhinal cortex carry different informational content. Thus, the distribution of inputs onto newly integrated granule cells will affect their function in the circuit. Using retroviral labeling in combination with selective optogenetic activation of medial or lateral entorhinal inputs, we examined the functional innervation and synaptic maturation of newly generated dentate granule cells in the mouse hippocampus. Our results indicate that lateral entorhinal inputs provide the majority of functional innervation of newly integrated granule cells at 21 d postmitosis. Despite preferential functional targeting, the dendritic spine density of immature granule cells was similar in the outer and middle molecular layers, which we speculate could reflect an unequal distribution of shaft synapses. However, chronic blockade of neurotransmitter release of medial entorhinal axons with tetanus toxin disrupted normal synapse development of both medial and lateral entorhinal inputs. Our results support a role for preferential lateral perforant path input onto newly generated neurons in mediating pattern separation, but also indicate that medial perforant path input is necessary for normal synaptic development.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT The formation of episodic memories involves the integration of contextual and spatial information. Newly integrated neurons in the dentate gyrus of the hippocampus play a critical role in this process, despite constituting only a minor fraction of the total number of granule cells. Here we demonstrate that these neurons preferentially receive information thought to convey the context of an experience. Each newly integrated granule cell plays this unique role for ∼1 month before reaching maturity.


dentate gyrus; neurogenesis; pattern separation; retroviral labeling; synapse formation; tetanus toxin

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