Morphological and electrophysiological properties of atypically oriented layer 2 pyramidal cells of the juvenile rat neocortex

Neuroscience. 2000;101(4):851-61. doi: 10.1016/s0306-4522(00)00430-9.


We used whole-cell patch clamp recordings combined with intracellular dye-filling to examine the morphological and electrophysiological properties of atypically oriented pyramidal cells located at the layer 1/2 border of the juvenile rat neocortex. Orientation of the apical dendrite varied from oblique (>20 degrees from vertical) to truly horizontal (90 degrees from vertical). The length of the apical dendrite ranged from 150 to 400 microm. The total horizontal domain of the dendritic tree (including basal dendrites) of the longest horizontal pyramids exceeded 500 microm, but we also found short horizontal cells with horizontal dendritic domains of less than 300 microm. In addition, atypically oriented pyramids had long horizontal axon collaterals in layer 1/2. Electrophysiologically, atypically oriented pyramidal cells had intrinsic membrane properties similar to regularly oriented pyramids that have been described in the superficial layers at this age in the rat. Cells that fired repetitively were all regular spiking. In addition, we identified a subgroup of neurons (20%) in this sample, which were unable to fire more than a few spikes at the beginning of the current pulse. We suggest that the unique orientation and size of their dendritic trees and the length and arrangement of their local axons collaterals make atypically oriented pyramids in layer 2 ideally suited to perform horizontal integration of synaptic inputs in the neocortex.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axons / ultrastructure
  • Dendrites / ultrastructure
  • Electrophysiology
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Neocortex / cytology*
  • Neocortex / physiology*
  • Neocortex / ultrastructure
  • Patch-Clamp Techniques
  • Pyramidal Cells / cytology*
  • Pyramidal Cells / physiology*
  • Pyramidal Cells / ultrastructure
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley