Electrical synapses in the thalamic reticular nucleus

Carole E. Landisman, Michael A. Long, Michael Beierlein, Michael R. Deans, David L. Paul, Barry W. Connors

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Neurons of the thalamic reticular nucleus (TRN) provide inhibitory input to thalamic relay cells and generate synchronized activity during sleep and seizures. It is widely assumed that TRN cells interact only via chemical synaptic connections. However, we show that many neighboring pairs of TRN neurons in rats and mice are electrically coupled. In paired-cell recordings, electrical synapses were able to mediate close correlations between action potentials when the coupling was strong; they could modulate burst-firing states even when the coupling strength was more modest. Electrical synapses between TRN neurons were absent in mice with a null mutation for the connexin36 (Cx36) gene. Surprisingly, inhibitory chemical synaptic connections between pairs of neurons were not observed, although strong extracellular stimuli could evoke inhibition in single TRN neurons. We conclude that Cx36-dependent gap junctions play an important role in the regulation of neural firing patterns within the TRN. When combined with recent observations from the cerebral cortex, our results imply that electrical synapses are a common mechanism for generating synchrony within networks of inhibitory neurons in the mammalian forebrain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1002-1009
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Volume22
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 1 2002
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

Electrical Synapses
Thalamic Nuclei
Neurons
Gap Junctions
Prosencephalon
Cerebral Cortex
Action Potentials
Sleep
Seizures
Mutation
Genes

Keywords

  • Connexin36
  • Electrical coupling
  • Gap junctions
  • Inhibition
  • Mouse
  • Rat
  • Reticular nucleus
  • Synchrony
  • Thalamus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

Cite this

Landisman, C. E., Long, M. A., Beierlein, M., Deans, M. R., Paul, D. L., & Connors, B. W. (2002). Electrical synapses in the thalamic reticular nucleus. Journal of Neuroscience, 22(3), 1002-1009.

Electrical synapses in the thalamic reticular nucleus. / Landisman, Carole E.; Long, Michael A.; Beierlein, Michael; Deans, Michael R.; Paul, David L.; Connors, Barry W.

In: Journal of Neuroscience, Vol. 22, No. 3, 01.02.2002, p. 1002-1009.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Landisman, CE, Long, MA, Beierlein, M, Deans, MR, Paul, DL & Connors, BW 2002, 'Electrical synapses in the thalamic reticular nucleus', Journal of Neuroscience, vol. 22, no. 3, pp. 1002-1009.
Landisman CE, Long MA, Beierlein M, Deans MR, Paul DL, Connors BW. Electrical synapses in the thalamic reticular nucleus. Journal of Neuroscience. 2002 Feb 1;22(3):1002-1009.
Landisman, Carole E. ; Long, Michael A. ; Beierlein, Michael ; Deans, Michael R. ; Paul, David L. ; Connors, Barry W. / Electrical synapses in the thalamic reticular nucleus. In: Journal of Neuroscience. 2002 ; Vol. 22, No. 3. pp. 1002-1009.
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