University of Illinois at Chicago
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Balancing Extrasynaptic Excitation and Synaptic Inhibition within Olfactory Bulb Glomeruli

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-04-17, 22:23 authored by David H Gire, Joseph D Zak, Jennifer N Bourne, Noah B Goodson, Nathan E Schoppa
Glutamatergic transmission in the brain typically occurs at well-defined synaptic connections, but increasing evidence indicates that neural excitation can also occur through activation of "extrasynaptic" glutamate receptors. Here, we investigated the underlying mechanisms and functional properties of extrasynaptic signals that are part of a feedforward path of information flow in the olfactory bulb. This pathway involves glutamatergic interneurons, external tufted cells (eTCs), that are excited by olfactory sensory neurons (OSNs) and in turn excite output mitral cells (MCs) extrasynaptically. Using pair-cell and triple-cell recordings in rat bulb slices (of either sex), combined with ultrastructural approaches, we first present evidence that eTC-to-MC signaling results from "spillover" of glutamate released at eTC synapses onto GABAergic periglomerular (PG) cells in glomeruli. Thus, feedforward excitation is an indirect result of and must cooccur with activation of inhibitory circuitry. Next, to examine the dynamics of the competing signals, we assayed the relationship between the number of spikes in eTCs and excitation of MCs or PG cells in pair-cell recordings. This showed that extrasynaptic excitation in MCs is very weak due to single spikes but rises sharply and supralinearly with increasing spikes, differing from sublinear behavior for synaptic excitation of PG cells. Similar dynamics leading to a preference for extrasynaptic excitation were also observed during recordings of extrasynaptic and inhibitory currents in response to OSN input of increasing magnitude. The observed alterations in the balance between extrasynaptic excitation and inhibition in glomeruli with stimulus strength could underlie an intraglomerular mechanism for olfactory contrast enhancement.


Balancing Excitation and Inhibition within Olfactory Bulb Glomeruli | Funder: National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders | Grant ID: F31DC013480



Gire, D. H., Zak, J. D., Bourne, J. N., Goodson, N. B.Schoppa, N. E. (2019). Balancing Extrasynaptic Excitation and Synaptic Inhibition within Olfactory Bulb Glomeruli. eNeuro, 6(4), eneuro.0247-eneu19.2019.


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