Synaptic control of glycine and GABA(A) receptors and gephyrin expression in cultured motoneurons

J Neurosci. 1999 Sep 1;19(17):7434-49. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.19-17-07434.1999.


We have evaluated the influence of the secretory phenotype of presynaptic boutons on the accumulation of postsynaptic glycine receptors (GlyRs), type A GABA receptors (GABA(A)Rs), and gephyrin clusters. The cellular distribution of these components was analyzed on motoneurons cultured either alone or with glycinergic and/or GABAergic neurons. In motoneurons cultured alone, we observed gephyrin clusters at nonsynaptic sites and in front of cholinergic boutons, whereas glycine and GABA(A) receptors formed nonsynaptic clusters. These receptors are functionally and pharmacologically similar to those found in cultures of all spinal neurons. Motoneurons receiving GABAergic innervation from dorsal root ganglia neurons displayed postsynaptic clusters of gephyrin and GABA(A)Rbeta but not of GlyRalpha/beta subunits. In motoneurons receiving glycinergic and GABAergic innervation from spinal interneurons, gephyrin, GlyRalpha/beta, and GABA(A)Rbeta formed mosaics at synaptic loci. These results indicate that (1) the transmitter phenotype of the presynaptic element determines the postsynaptic accumulation of specific receptors but not of gephyrin and (2) the postsynaptic accumulation of gephyrin alone cannot account for the formation of GlyR-rich microdomains.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carrier Proteins / genetics
  • Carrier Proteins / physiology*
  • Cell Communication
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Choline O-Acetyltransferase / genetics
  • Choline O-Acetyltransferase / metabolism
  • Embryo, Mammalian
  • Ganglia, Spinal / cytology
  • Ganglia, Spinal / physiology*
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Glycine / pharmacology*
  • Kinetics
  • Membrane Proteins / genetics
  • Membrane Proteins / physiology*
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins / analysis
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins / genetics
  • Motor Neurons / cytology
  • Motor Neurons / drug effects
  • Motor Neurons / physiology*
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Patch-Clamp Techniques
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Receptors, GABA-A / genetics
  • Receptors, GABA-A / physiology*
  • Receptors, Glycine / genetics
  • Receptors, Glycine / physiology*
  • Spinal Cord / cytology
  • Spinal Cord / physiology*
  • Strychnine / pharmacology
  • Synapses / drug effects
  • Synapses / physiology*


  • Carrier Proteins
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins
  • Receptors, GABA-A
  • Receptors, Glycine
  • gephyrin
  • Choline O-Acetyltransferase
  • Strychnine
  • Glycine