Enrichment of mGluR7a in the presynaptic active zones of GABAergic and non-GABAergic terminals on interneurons in the rat somatosensory cortex

Cereb Cortex. 2002 Sep;12(9):961-74. doi: 10.1093/cercor/12.9.961.


The release of glutamate and GABA is modulated by presynaptic metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluRs). We used immunocytochemical methods to define the location of the group III receptor mGluR7a in glutamatergic and GABAergic terminals innervating GABAergic interneurons and pyramidal cells. Immunoreactivity for mGluR7a was localized in the presynaptic active zone of both identified GABAergic and presumed glutamatergic terminals. Terminals innervating dendritic spines showed a variable level of receptor immunoreactivity, ranging from immunonegative to strongly immunopositive. The frequency of strongly mGluR7a positive terminals innervating the soma and dendrites of mGluR1 alpha/somatostatin-expressing interneurons was very high relative to other neurons. On dendrites that received mGluR7a-enriched glutamatergic innervation, at least 80% of GABAergic terminals were immunopositive for mGluR7a. On such dendrites virtually all (95%) vasoactive intestinal polypeptide (VIP) positive (GABAergic) terminals were enriched in mGluR7a. The targets of VIP/mGluR7a-expressing terminals were mainly (88%) mGluR1 alpha-expressing interneurons, which were mostly somatostatin immunopositive. Parvalbumin positive terminals were immunonegative for mGluR7a. Some parvalbumin immunoreactive dendrites received strongly mGluR7a positive terminals. The subcellular location, as well as the cell type and synapse-specific distribution of mGluR7a in isocortical neuronal circuits, is homologous to its distribution in the hippocampus. The specific location of mGluR7a in the presynaptic active zone of both glutamatergic and GABAergic synapses may be related to the proximity of calcium channels and the vesicle fusion machinery. The enrichment of mGluR7a in the main GABAergic, as well as in the glutamatergic, innervation of mGluR1 alpha/somatostatin-expressing interneurons suggests that their activation is under unique regulation by extracellular glutamate.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Interneurons / chemistry
  • Interneurons / metabolism*
  • Interneurons / ultrastructure
  • Male
  • Presynaptic Terminals / chemistry
  • Presynaptic Terminals / metabolism*
  • Presynaptic Terminals / ultrastructure
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Receptors, Metabotropic Glutamate / analysis
  • Receptors, Metabotropic Glutamate / biosynthesis*
  • Receptors, Metabotropic Glutamate / ultrastructure
  • Somatosensory Cortex / chemistry
  • Somatosensory Cortex / metabolism*
  • Somatosensory Cortex / ultrastructure
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / analysis
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / biosynthesis*
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / metabolism


  • Receptors, Metabotropic Glutamate
  • metabotropic glutamate receptor 7
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid