Article: article from journal or magazin.
Proximity of excitatory synapses and astroglial gap junctions in layer IV of the mouse barrel cortex.
Publication types: Journal Article ; Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't Publication Status: ppublish
Neurons and astrocytes, the two major cell populations in the adult brain, are characterized by their own mode of intercellular communication--the synapses and the gap junctions (GJ), respectively. In addition, there is increasing evidence for dynamic and metabolic neuroglial interactions resulting in the modulation of synaptic transmission at the so-called "tripartite synapse". Based on this, we have investigated at the ultrastructural level how excitatory synapses (ES) and astroglial GJ are spatially distributed in layer IV of the barrel cortex of the adult mouse. We used specific antibodies for connexin (Cx) 30 and 43 to identify astroglial GJ, these two proteins are known to be present in the majority of astroglial GJ in the cerebral cortex. In electron-microscopic images, we measured the distance between two ES, between two GJ and between a GJ and its nearest ES. We found a ratio of two GJ per three ES in the hollow and septal areas. Taking into account the size of an astrocyte domain, the high density of GJ suggests the occurrence of reflexive type, i.e. GJ between processes of the same astrocyte. Interestingly, the distance between an ES and an astroglial GJ was found to be significantly lower than that between either two synapses or between two GJ. These observations indicate that the two modes of cell-to-cell communication are not randomly distributed in layer IV of the barrel cortex. Consequently, this feature may provide the morphological support for the recently reported functional interactions between neuronal circuits and astroglial networks.
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