Myelination defects and neuronal hyperexcitability in the neocortex of connexin 32-deficient mice

Cereb Cortex. 2000 Jul;10(7):684-97. doi: 10.1093/cercor/10.7.684.


Morphological and electrophysiological studies were performed on neocortices of adult Connexin 32 (Cx32)-deficient mice and wild-type mice to investigate the consequences of a lack of the gap junction subunit Cx32 on neocortical structure and function. Morphometrical analysis revealed a reduced volume fraction of myelin within the neuropil and a decreased thickness of the axonal myelin sheaths in the neocortex of Cx32-deficient mice. Intracellular recordings from neurons in neocortical slice preparations provided evidence for an increased membrane input resistance in neurons of Cx32-null mutant mice as compared to neurons of wild-type mice. Consequently, neurons of Cx32-deficient mice displayed an enhanced intrinsic excitability. In addition, approximately 50% of the neurons investigated in slices of Cx32-deficient mice responded to afferent stimulation with delayed and large glutamatergic excitatory postsynaptic potentials resembling paroxysmal depolarizations. GABAergic inhibition sufficient to efficiently control synaptic excitability was virtually absent in these cells. The changes in intrinsic membrane properties observed in neurons of Cx32-null mutant mice were independent of the alterations in synaptic function, since increased membrane resistances were observed also in neurons with normal synaptic response pattern. Thus, in the neocortex, lack of Cx32 correlates with myelination defects, alterations in intrinsic membrane properties and dysfunction of inhibitory synaptic transmission.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials
  • Animals
  • Axons / pathology
  • Connexins / deficiency*
  • Connexins / genetics
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Excitatory Postsynaptic Potentials
  • Female
  • Gap Junctions
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Myelin Sheath / pathology*
  • Neocortex / pathology*
  • Neocortex / physiology*
  • Neocortex / ultrastructure
  • Neuropil / pathology
  • Synapses / physiology


  • Connexins
  • connexin 32