Synapses of extrinsic and intrinsic origin made by callosal projection neurons in mouse visual cortex

David Czeiger, Edward L. White

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    39 Scopus citations

    Abstract

    Neurons in areas 17/18a and 17/18b of mouse cerebral cortex were labeled by the retrograde transport of horseradish peroxidase (HRP) transported from severed callosal axons in the contralateral hemisphere. Terminals of the local axon collaterals of labeled neurons (intrinsic terminals) were identified in the border regions of area 17 with areas 18a and 18b, and their distribution and synaptic connectivity were determined. Also examined were the synaptic connections of extrinsic callosal axon terminals labeled by lesion‐induced degeneration consequent to the severing of callosal fibers. A postlesion survival time of 3 days was chosen because by this time the extrinsic terminals were all degenerating, whereas the intrinsic terminals were labeled by horseradish peroxidase. Both intrinsic and extrinsic callosal axon terminals occurred in all layers of the cortex where, with rare exception, they formed asymmetrical synapses. Layers II and III contained the highest concentrations of intrinsic and extrinsic callosal axon terminals. Analyses of serial thin sections through layers II and III in both areas 17/18a and 17/18b yielded similar results: 97% of the intrinsic (1,412 total sample) and of the extrinsic (414 total sample) callosal axon terminals synapsed onto dendritic spines, likely those of pyramidal neurons; the remainder synapsed onto dendritic shafts of both spiny and nonspiny neurons. Thus, the synaptic output patterns of intrinsic vs. extrinsic callosal axon terminals are strikingly similar. Moreover, the high proportion of axospinous synapses formed by both types of terminal (97%) contrasts with the proportion of asymmetrical axospinous synapses that occurs in the surrounding neuropil where about 64% of the asymmetrical synapses are onto spines. This result is in accord with previous quantitative studies of the synaptic connectivities of callosal projection neurons in mouse somatosensory cortex, and lends additional weight to the hypothesis that axonal pathways are highly selective for the types of elements with which they synapse.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)502-513
    Number of pages12
    JournalJournal of Comparative Neurology
    Volume330
    Issue number4
    DOIs
    StatePublished - 1 Jan 1993

    Keywords

    • callosum
    • cerebral cortex
    • horseradish peroxidase

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