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J Comp Neurol. 1999 Jul 12;409(4):664-81.

Development of GABA, glycine, and their receptors in the auditory brainstem of gerbil: a light and electron microscopic study.

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Department of Surgery/Otolaryngology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut 06520-8041, USA.


Inhibitory synaptic transmission is known to play an important role during the maturation of central auditory pathways. While there is a lot of information on the modulatory role of glycine (Gly) on the postsynaptic target nuclei in the developing auditory brain stem, such a role for gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the lateral superior olive (LSO) of neonatal gerbil has been only recently reported (Kotak and Sanes [1997] Soc Neurosci Abst 23:1549; Kotak et al. [1998] J Neurosci 18:4646-4655). Here we present further immunohistochemical findings and the first ultrastructural evidence documenting a significant decrease in the postsynaptic localization of the beta2,3 subunit of the GABA(A) receptor from postnatal day (P)4 to P14 in the LSO of gerbil and the shift in the location of most of the staining from dendritic to astroglial over the same time course. There was a concomitant increase in staining for the Gly receptor (GlyR) anchoring protein, gephyrin. At the same time, GABA and Gly did not show a significant change in their staining pattern, suggesting that the transmitter levels are not particularly indicative of the inhibitory function in the neonatal gerbil LSO, but their receptors on the postsynaptic cells are. The observations of the present study suggest that the early GABAergic inhibition may be important in establishing appropriate synaptic contacts in the LSO of gerbil.

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