Mossy cells give rise to the commissural and associational pathway of the dentate gyrus, and receive their major excitatory inputs from the mossy fibers of granule cells. Through these feed-back excitatory connections, mossy cells have been suggested to play important roles in both normal signal processing in learning and memory, as well as in seizure propagation. However, the nature of the activity-dependent modifications of the mossy fiber inputs to mossy hilar cells is not well understood. We studied the long- and short-term plasticity properties of the mossy fiber-mossy cell synapse, using the minimal stimulation technique in slices in whole cell recorded mossy cells retrogradely prelabeled with the fluorescent dye DiO from the contralateral dentate gyrus. Following tetanic stimulation, mossy fiber synapses showed significant NMDA receptor-independent long-term potentiation (LTP), associated with increased excitatory postsynaptic currents (EPSC) amplitude and decreased failure rates. Coefficient of variance and failure rate analyses suggested a presynaptic locus of LTP induction. Mossy fiber synapses on mossy cells also showed activity-dependent short-term modification properties, including both frequency-dependent facilitation (stimuli at higher frequencies evoked larger EPSCs with lower failure rates) and burst facilitation (each EPSC in a burst had a larger amplitude and higher probability of occurrence than the preceding EPSCs within the burst). The data show that mossy fiber-mossy cell synapses exhibit both long- and short-term plasticity phenomena that are generally similar to the mossy fiber synapses on CA3 pyramidal cells.
(c) 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc